500 animals rescued from squalid zoo

A mini zoo in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, has been shut down, with immediate steps being taken by wildlife rangers to rescue some 500 animals and birds which have been living in squalid conditions.

The animals in the Kudat zoo included slow lorises, binturong (bear cat), gibbons, eagles, hornbills, lorikeets and leopard cats.

Some of them would be sent to the state-owned Lok Kawi Zoo, Sabah Wildlife Department deputy director Dr Sen Nathan told The Star.

Others might be released back into the wild, he said.

Many of them had been kept in dirty cages at the Victory Mini Zoo in Kampung Papapat, near Matunggong.

Dr Nathan said the department had revoked its licence and had begun to confiscate the animals and birds from the zoo since last Friday.

The closure of the zoo came about after wildlife rangers seized two endangered turtles from a farm last Thursday and found that the zoo operators were keeping more animals than they were permitted to.

"It would take more than two weeks to do an inventory and rescue the animals and birds from the mini zoo," Dr Nathan said.

Wildlife officials have detained a manager of the zoo following the seizure of the turtles.

The mini zoo opened about 12 years ago with a permit from the Wildlife Department.

In Johor Baru, the state government is carrying out an investigation over the disappearance of four monkeys from the Johor Zoo last week.

"We are worried about this as it is the second time that someone had come into the zoo and stolen animals," state Housing and Local Government executive councillor Abdul Latiff Bandi said.

Several birds were stolen previously.


"We will be looking at ways to beef up security, including installing CCTVs at the enclosure and the main exit point," he said when contacted.

Known as the common marmoset, the small monkeys could possibly fetch a price of RM8,000 (S$3,100) or more each on the black market.

Johor Baru (South) police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Sulaiman Salleh said police had recorded eight statements from the zoo staff.

ACP Sulaiman also urged the public to contact the police if they found the animals at pet shops or if they know of someone selling the monkeys.

This article was first published on November 18, 2014.
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