Public concern, anger over 'lost' orangutans, tiger at Taiwan Zoo

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A social media manager for the Hsinchu City mayor yesterday posted a lost notice for two orangutans from the Hsinchu Zoo, eliciting public concern and then anger.

"Looking for Hsiung-ta and Baby," began a status update on Hsinchu City Mayor Lin Chih-chien's personal page.

"This morning, I received a phone call from a citizen who said that two orangutans, Hsiung-ta and Baby, have disappeared. In the neighbouring enclosure, a Bengal tiger has vanished too without a trace. The city government has already requested that the zoo provide surveillance footage and we're waiting to confirm their whereabouts. When we have information, we will update everybody."

The post quickly racked up concerned comments on Facebook. Through the messaging app Line, residents living near Hsinchu Zoo exchanged reminders to be mindful of safety, according to the United Evening News.

At 10:57 a.m., the city government released a press statement to announce that the animals were not missing.

The tiger was moved to Leofoo Village and the orangutans to Taipei Zoo so the tropical rainforest area could undergo renovations for the first time in 50 years, according to the statement.

A Hsinchu Zoo staff member, who asked not to be named, told local media that the online lost notice was a lighthearted way to announce the renovation.

"Is this a joke? It's a serious matter for a ferocious animal to be missing in an urban area," reacted one netizen.

"The mayor and his team should be more prudent and professional. Do not rush to use Facebook to create a show," wrote another.

In a later edit to the lost notice, the social media manager apologised for creating a misunderstanding.

"The original intention was to invite everybody to be concerned about the old zoo, which has accompanied the people of Hsinchu for many years and brought many beautiful memories," the post stated.

"For creating a misunderstanding and causing alarm, this editor is deeply sorry and is enclosing details of the relocation."

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