Warning: There are some disturbing images below.
The elephants at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, which is a zoo and animal rescue facility in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, used to have a decent life.
They lived in a large enclosure and were allowed to roam freely.
They walked on soft grass and were even allowed to wade in a shallow pool of water. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case anymore.
Their enclosure was shut down about six months ago due to construction.
The elephants were moved to a small concrete area in the back of the zoo.
These poor creatures are chained up 24 hours a day which Friends of the Orangutans Director Upreshpal Singh says is not healthy for the elephants.
“They chain them and force them to stand for hours and hours on concrete,” Singh told The Dodo. “Elephants should not be kept on cement. The ground should be a soft substrate, like a special kind of sand.”
Not only is the concrete too hard for an elephant’s feet, but the concrete is also very dirty.
That’s because the elephants pee and poop on it.
So, they are standing in their own waste which can cause serious foot problems.
Having the elephants chained up is the worst part because it stops them from, well, being elephants.
They can’t lay down, play, socialize, or bathe in dust or water.
And elephants are highly social creatures. This also causes the elephants to start to develop repetitive patterns which are a symptom of stress, which include swaying back and forth compulsively in their chains.
“If you stand or sleep on bare concrete, day in and day out, you are going to have problems,” Singh said. “And elephants are big and very heavy. So to make them stand or lie down on concrete is really bad for their health.”
The work on their enclosure was supposed to be completed by July 2018, however, it hasn’t and the elephants are still hidden away in the back of the zoo in chains.
Singh says it’s because the zoo is broke and they are losing millions of dollars every year.
Though the zoo is supposed to also serve as a rescue and rehabilitation center, Singh isn’t sure they are providing the animals with proper medical care.
This is because two of their elephants have died. An endangered Borneo elephant named Yapid died a month before a 3-year-0ld elephant named Gendu died.
Singh is worried that other elephants will die if they remained chained up.
He also fears for the other animals like sun bears, tigers, and orangutans who are kept in small enclosures at the zoo. These animals are put into even tinier spaces once the sun goes down.
The death of the animals came just two weeks after the minister of tourism visited the zoo and declared that “all was well.”
The Star Online reports that seven elephants died in the wild due to unknown causes between April and May.
The Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal is asking wildlife officials to investigate.
Singh hopes that the park will create better living conditions for their animals.
“They should rebrand this place, and turn it into a sanctuary,” Singh said. “They need to provide enrichment for the animals on a daily basis, and the zoo has to come up with an area where the elephants can walk and roam freely.”
You can help by contacting the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Environment in Sabah and kindly asking the minister to take actions to improve conditions for animals at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park at http://kepkas.sabah.gov.my/ or by making a donation to Friends of the Orangutans.
You can see the poor conditions at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in the video below.
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