International spotlight means hope for Indonesia’s Bandung Zoo bears

16 February 2017

Suffering bears are set for a better future as international pressure prompts government action.

Viral footage of sun bears at Bandung Zoo begging for food has prompted greater awareness of their plight via global media coverage.

Read: Indonesia’s Bandung Zoo bears need more than food

As a result of the coverage, the Indonesian government has been inundated with letters highlighting the animal welfare issues faced by the bears – and the attention has forced the government to respond.

Among the thousands of letter writers was Animals Asia supporter Donna Mackenzie from Falkirk, Scotland. She wrote a polite letter and received a direct reply from the Public Diplomacy, Press and Socio-Cultural Affairs department of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in London.

The embassy made it clear that the Environment Minister has instructed Bandung Zoo to improve their facility and management, while also pledging to set up a meeting between the zoo and Animals Asia’s local partners Scorpion Foundation to discuss future changes.

Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director, Dave Neale said:

“It’s incredibly gratifying to see how global attention can make a real change. It really can make a difference and in this case it has. Thanks to Scorpion Foundation’s footage, media coverage and the emails and phone calls of animal lovers all over the world, the care of these bears is set to improve.

“But there are still hundreds of captive animals suffering awful conditions all over Indonesia, and that won’t end until zoo regulations define animal welfare with an enforceable definition.

“Our supporters – via their pens and keyboards – have already helped enormously, but we can’t stop now. We urge our supporters to continue the letter writing campaign and let the Indonesian authorities – who rely so heavily on tourism – know we won’t be happy until we have enforceable legislation.”

As a result of global pressure for change, the West Java Center for Natural Resources Conservation (BBKSDA) has been appointed to implement improved welfare at Bandung Zoo, while Wild Welfare, a charity that works with zoos to improve standards for animals, will be returning to further identify ways to boost animal welfare.

Animals Asia’s partner organisation Scorpion Foundation will monitor changes to ensure that the promised improvements are made and that the sun bears’ enclosures and diets are transformed for the better.

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“Beyond everything – this footage has firmly placed Indonesia’s zoos in the spotlight and that’s where they need to be. Now that cruelty has been exposed, it is that much easier to convince the authorities that change is necessary – for that we must thanks Scorpion for their tireless efforts to highlight this cause over the last few years.

“As part of our collaboration with Scorpion we sponsor their work to highlight cruelty such as this. The plight of these bears and the reaction to the footage, has shown how effective that can be in bringing about change.”