Viral video ends cruel sun bear and orangutan performances

20 September 2017

In the face of public outrage, an Indonesian zoo has announced it will no longer force sun bears and orangutans to perform for food.

Heartbreaking footage of a starving sun bear being forced to perform for morsels of food shocked half a million people when released by Animals Asia’s Indonesian partner Scorpion Foundation last month.

When anger had passed, resolve set in and tens of thousands around the world signed a petition calling for the tragic cruelty to end.

Lembah Hijau Zoo on Sumatra found itself inundated with complaints via emails and social media – and a little over a month later, the cruelty stopped. 

Scorpion’s monitoring team have confirmed on three follow-up visits that the sun bear, and an eight year-old orangutan called Boby, are no longer being humiliated and exploited for profit at the facility.

Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

“We’re very happy that the zoo seems to have done the right thing and ended these heartbreakingly cruel shows. It really does show how much power individuals have in their hands to affect change. If nobody stands up for these animals and becomes their voice, then these kind of cruel shows will not only continue but expand.

“While this move by Lembah Hijau is to be applauded, we must remember there is still a long way to go. Otters and birds, for example, are still abused at this facility in this way. No animal willingly carries out these kind of tricks – they have to be forced – and that can never be acceptable.”

With the help of Animals Asia and Change for Animals Foundation, Scorpion Foundation is making Indonesia’s lack of animal welfare a global issue.

Scorpion’s investigations into facilities around the country made headlines around the world earlier this year when they revealed the poor condition of a group of sun bears in Bandung Zoo.

By highlighting the issue, Scorpion ensured action was taken. Indonesia’s Minister of Environment and Forestry personally responded and the zoo has subsequently engaged the help of international organisations to improve the welfare and conditions for the sun bears.

They also lobbied the Indonesian State Broadcasting Commission to ban any programmes which promote the exploitation of wildlife. Since then, the commission has vowed to review past shows to see if any regulations have been broken and take action on any violations.

In previous years, Scorpion’s investigations have led to Michael the orangutan no longer being made to pose for selfies with tourists and helped reveal the scale of animal cruelty behind the widespread practise of elephant ride tourism.

Recent years have seen a global shift in public perception against animal performance. To date 19 countries have implemented complete bans on wild animal performances, while numerous states and localities have installed their own bans.

If you are appalled by animal performance cruelty, speak up for the voiceless. Act now to end it by taking the pledge never to watch animal performance and tell everyone you know to do the same.