Call for Animals | The star

Zoo Negara continues its adoption and sponsorship program to improve conditions for its population of 5,137 people.

DURING the movement control order, Zoo Negara appealed for help to feed its animals.

He posted a photo of a beetle that caught the eye of Malaysian rapper Wee Meng Chee, better known as Namewee.

He reposted it and urged his fans to help the zoo animals.

“It’s MCO, they have no food. Have mercy on them,” he wrote.

Along with the beetle, the rapper also posted zoo-issued adoption certificates for him for the Malayan tapir, hornbills, and Borneo horned frogs.

“I don’t really have a particular preference for these animals.

“I chose them because I thought maybe they didn’t have as many sponsors as cuter animals like the panda or the orangutan,” Namewee told StarMetro via WhatsApp.

Her post seems to have convinced many of her fans to support Zoo Negara’s animal adoption campaign.

A check of the zoo’s website revealed a list of 447 stag beetle donors, with contributions ranging from RM50 to RM500.

Gather the audience

Zoo Negara Vice President [email protected] Ahmat Lana, who is also the President of Administration and Human Resources, recalled the stress associated with the restrictions imposed by the MCO.

“We had big problems because there was no income since we couldn’t open.

“We needed RM1.3m per month to run the zoo, but we only had RM1m in the bank.

“We could stop maintenance work but not animal food,” said Rosly of the national zoo located in Hulu Kelang, Ampang in Selangor.

He turned to the media to highlight their plight.

Rosly feeds a macaw at the zoo. Birds are, surprisingly, often ignored by pet adopters.

The response from the public, as well as the private sector and government agencies has been overwhelming.

The zoo received RM11 million in donations in 2020.

“We have reduced staff allowances, overtime and other claims.

“But the animals didn’t suffer because their welfare is the priority,” Rosly said.

Zoo Negara is managed by the Malaysian Zoological Society, a non-governmental organization.

It was officially opened on November 14, 1963 and now has 5,137 animals, cared for by 140 full-time staff, volunteers and four veterinarians.

The health of the animals is constantly monitored and their behavior monitored.

“They get their daily vitamins and are better cared for than many humans,” Rosly joked.

“As soon as something is wrong with one of them, it is immediately reported to the vet,” he said.

Popularity issues

Acknowledging that some zoo animals are more popular with sponsors than others, Rosly revealed that tigers, lions and pandas were the top three picks.

“Based on the total collection for our animal adoption program in 2021, the top animals are our tigers Jati and Kayla who have 2,165 adopters, followed by African lions Manja, Ella and Samba with 1,298 adopters. .

“The least popular was our hyena, Yellow, with 105 adopters, and Bearcat Kiki with 113 adopters,” he said.

The cost of care for each animal depends on the species and the type of food consumed.

For example, it costs RM35,133.75 to maintain a Malayan tiger for a year.

This includes purchasing food, maintaining the animal’s enclosure, and veterinary care.

For RM12,000 per year, pet adopters can have their name and logo displayed.  – AZMAN GHANI/The starFor RM12,000 per year, pet adopters can have their name and logo displayed. – AZMAN GHANI/The star

There are seven tigers housed in the carnivore section.

“In adoption drives, snakes are the least popular,” lamented Rosly, who keeps a cornmeal snake in her office.

“I don’t understand why snakes have so few beneficiaries.

“They don’t need a lot of money for food because they only eat once every two to three weeks,” he added.

The zoo currently has around 100 snakes housed in the reptile section.

Only his white-lipped viper Sunda found a sponsor in a business selling food ingredients and ready meals, who donated RM22,000.

Food rations

Although the zoo’s slippery residents may not have many sponsors, well-wishers have provided food over the years.

Examples are the Medical Research Institute which provides white mice and the Fire and Rescue Service which brings in snakes they have captured as the snakes eat other snakes as food.

Rats captured by local councils are not accepted as they harbor bacteria.

A bread maker also delivers a truckload of bread to the zoo every week.

Deer, especially, like bread, says Rosly.

Deer are also on the less popular list, along with birds, insects, amphibians, and reptiles such as box turtles and a sailfin water lizard.

Luckily for the insect family, like the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, they are housed in an insectarium which the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources gave the zoo RM 1 million to build.

During this time, a total of 22 kg of fish is needed to feed the zoo’s bird population daily.

“Unlike lions and tigers who can eat up to 8 kg of meat a day, we have not actively sought sponsors for our insect and amphibian residents,” Rosly said.

Comfort for seals

The zoo is currently focusing its efforts on its 18-year-old male fur seal, Domba, and his mate, Dombu.

Domba alone eats 12 kg of fish a day.

Its keeper Mahat Mohamed said more funds for Domba would allow the zoo to upgrade its pond filtration system.

Domba is the star of the zoo’s animal shows and he does his stunts in the amphitheater pool filled with fresh water.

The show takes place every day except Friday unless it is a public holiday.

To keep the fur seal healthy, the saltwater pond in Domba’s private quarters must be maintained at a salinity of 28 parts per thousand.

The current filter can only maintain the salinity level for 15 days, after which the water must be rinsed out and new bags of salt added.

A new filter will help maintain salinity levels for at least a month, saving the zoo the extra expense of having to refresh the pool with no less than 50 bags of salt weighing 40 kg each.

Ideally, Domba’s private quarters should also be kept at a temperature of no more than 16 degrees Celsius using an air conditioner.

During this time, the fur seal is kept cool with a fan.

Rosly said experts advised him to forgo the air conditioner for now, as the mammal had acclimatized to the weather here.

“Once he gets used to an air conditioner and it breaks down, he can get sick,” he explained.

Future updates

Since an animal’s adoption period is only one year, the zoo must ensure that it plans ahead to find adopters for future upgrades.

The aquarium has been identified as an area requiring work.

“We are looking to partner with other businesses as changing the aquarium and introducing new exhibits can cost RM50 million.

“It’s a lot of money, so we’ll have to do studies on how many years it will take to recoup the sum,” Rosly said.

The latest addition to the zoo is the insectarium and although the Department of Energy and Natural Resources sponsored the construction, the maintenance of the insect habitats as well as their replacement are the responsibility of the zoo.

“In general, most bugs don’t live very long and need to be replenished weekly,” Rosly said.

He added that the need for regular restocking was the reason the zoo chose not to hold butterfly shows.

Thousands are needed for a good presentation, with each butterfly costing between RM2 and RM5.

The insectarium is deemed necessary for its educational value.

Reinforcement of the brand image

Rosly said businesses and individuals who continue to support the zoo’s animal sponsorship and adoption programs will receive adoption certificates and entry vouchers to the premises.

Donors who donate more are eligible to have their names on the zoo’s website, social media and displayed in front of their adopted animals’ enclosures for one year.

“Although our donations are not tax deductible, Zoo Negara is an established brand.

“So there’s a certain status that comes with being connected to our name,” Rosly said.

He cited a Datin Seri who donated RM16,000 to adopt a cheetah, a family who donated RM25,000 for two mountain lions, a convenience store chain who donated RM123,084 for two hippos, and a bank who donated RM50,000 for maintenance of two camels.

He revealed that a large part of the zoo’s day-to-day operations, which included staff salaries amounting to RM700,000 per month, was supported by its gate collection which brought in RM1.3 million per month.

Ideally, it should reach RM1.5 million so that the zoo has an extra to keep aside for exhibit upgrades.

Public donations currently contribute about 30% of the zoo’s operating expenses.

An animal adopter can have their name and logo displayed with a minimum donation of RM12,000 per year.

The Ministry of Natural Resources through the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) has also allocated RM120,000 per month from January to December this year for the purchase of animal feed, medicine and supplies for veterinary services through its Animal Welfare Fund program.

For more details on the zoo’s animal adoption program, visit www.zoonegaramalaysia.my/adopt.html

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