Charles Parkinson and Phak Seangly
The Phnom Penh Post, Wed, 2 September 2015
Hirakawa Zoo in southern Japan has confirmed it plans to send endangered white tigers to Teuk Chhou Zoo in Kampot province, despite deplorable conditions and evidence of psychological damage among the animals at the Cambodian zoo.
A senior official from the Japanese zoo stated that the exchange, while not finalised, will likely be completed in the first half of 2016, with two endangered white tigers and two zebras going to Teuk Chhou.
“If everything goes well, the swap will be made possibly after spring,” they said. In return, the zoo in Kagoshima prefecture will receive two Asian elephants currently housed at Teuk Chhou.
The source confirmed a zoo representative and a Kagoshima city government official visited Cambodia and met Teuk Chhou owner Nhim Vanda to discuss the trade.
Kagoshima city government directed all requests for comment to Hirakawa Zoo, which did not comment on the conditions witnessed at Teuk Chhou.
Kaori Sakamoto, of Japanese NGO Voice for Zoo Animals, painted a bleak picture of the elephant enclosure at the Hirakawa Zoo, where Teuk Chhou’s elephants, Kiri and Seila, would likely be kept.
“They will be forced to live in a physically and behaviourally impoverished exhibit in which they will suffer,” she said.
Sakamoto also questioned the motives behind the exchange.
“There is no legitimate conservation value to this proposed trade. For both zoos, it is entirely to obtain new animals for public display and amusement,” she said.
During a visit to Teuk Chhou on Sunday, the Post witnessed underweight animals rushing to the bars of dilapidated and undersized cages in the hope of being fed. None of the caged animals were seen to have clean drinking water and many lacked adequate shelter from the rain. (more…)