Nur Yasmin, Jakarta – Over 50 zoos in Indonesia are in dire need of donations as Covid-19 hit reduces the zoo's income, putting its animals, including the endangered species at risk of dying.
"We are in a challenging time, and most zoos are unable to provide more food for the animals. We have helped, but it is not enough," H. Rahmat Shah, PKBSI chairman, told JakartaGlobe.
The Indonesian Zoo Association (PKBSI) is a nonprofit organization handling 57 zoos from Aceh to Papua. The zoos are the home for 4,912 animal species, summing up to 68,933 animals, including endemic and endangered animals, mammals, carnivores, reptiles, poultry, sea life, and others.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, zoos operational has been closed since mid-March to stop the virus spread. That disrupted zoos' income to buy food, medicines, vitamins, staff salary, and other operational costs.
The current stock in almost all the zoos could only last until mid-May.
"Zoos' income depends on ticket selling, despite that some state-owned zoos are supported by the regional budget. We need more support from the government, businesses, public figures, and other animal lovers," Rahmat said.
PKBSI started fundraising on May 1 to support all zoos in Indonesia, targeting at least Rp 60 billion ($4 million) donations, which could only last for two months.
"So far, we have received over Rp 500 million. But we need at least Rp 60 billion to last for two months. If we don't receive any help in the next two to three months, the condition would be unimaginable," Rahmat said.
Without certainty on when this pandemic will be over if the zoos don't receive enough donation until May, zoos might have to feed off common animals to carnivores.
"We would only sacrifice the old and common animals. So far, we have not killed other animals for food, and not one has died. But maybe we would have to do it if in two months we don't have another solution," Rahmat said.
The zoo management has made various efforts from food substitution, furlough, work-time cut, and fundraising.
"Our priority is to keep the animals healthy and keep their maintenance normally. Zoo maintenance is different from other businesses. Even if we're closed, we need a huge budget to feed the animals and give them vitamins," Rahmat said.
During Ramadan and Idul Fitri is the time zoos would have a considerable visitor influx, but because of the pandemic, zoos will not have extra income this year.
"Normally, the profit is a billion a month, but during these two months, we could receive 5-10 times of that. We would make use of the moment to make new programs, fix the cages, and other maintenance," Rahmat said.
Rahmat said the government, especially the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, should pay more attention to the zoos in their province, especially during this difficult time.
"We need the government to care more about these animals' fate. Animals are not owned by the zoo or conservation agencies, but they are public property for the future generation," Rahmat said.
He said that this problem is not unique to Indonesia; other countries are also experiencing it. The difference is their government pays more attention to this matter.
"We have sent a letter to the President and related ministries, but they have not responded," Rahmat said.
He applauded Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan for giving financial aid to the Ragunan Zoo. "If the governors in other provinces do the same, things would be very different," Rahmat said.