Report to FOTO

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Do you work in a zoo, orangutan rehabilitation centre or in/near orangutan habitat in the wild? Do you have concerns about practices, standards or care at your workplace? Or if you know orangutans are harmed/killed in the wild?

Across Malaysia we work with individuals to identify (and sometimes, expose) poor standards and practices in zoos to help improve the quality of life of orangutans in captivity. We also look to expose any company/individual who harms orangutans in their forest home. You can report to Friends of the Orangutans if you experience or have information on these issues:

Our assurance:

– We will protect the identity of any individual that contacts us with information and will guarantee complete confidentiality if required

– We will not publicize any information or photos without your express consent


Example of information you can provide us:

– Unsupervised feeding of food (with photos) of any kind to orangutans at a zoo

– Use of orangutans for public entertainment. An example would be orangutans used in public photography sessions, animal shows

– Poor captive care of orangutans

– Abuse and murder of orangutans in captivity or the wild (e.g. a palm oil plantation)

Furthermore if you have visited an orangutan rehabilitation centre in Sabah or Sarawak and have come across visitors being in too close proximity to orangutans, for example, holding them for the purpose of taking photographs, please let us know. Orangutans can catch human diseases from contact with humans which could be deadly to them. Plus such practice can result in injury to both apes and humans.

Click here to report to contact us.

The Leuser Ecosystem – World Heritage Protection, or destroyed forever?!

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The Acehnese Government is pushing to finalise the proposed Spatial Plan in the next coming weeks along with and additional NEW draft governor’s regulation, which opens a door for new permits in large critical areas of the Leuser Ecosystem.

If approved, this new plan and the new regulation will result in the rapid devastation of most of Aceh’s remaining lowland forests, the last stronghold for the Sumatran orangutan, tiger, rhino and elephant. This also totally undermines the legal status of the world renowned Leuser Ecosystem. What’s more, it will not only seriously impact biodiversity and regional carbon emissions, but also seriously jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of many thousands of Aceh’s 4 million people.”

Act Now! This must be stopped.

Sign –

Fax –

Donate –

Twitter hashtag: #SaveAceh

KL Kepong refuses to quit Collingwood Bay despite court loss

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On 20th May, the National Court of Papua New Guinea ordered the State to cancel two massive land leases claimed by Malaysian palm oil giant Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK). A total of 38,350 hectares in size, the two large pieces of land provide the indigenous communities in Collingwood Bay with what they need for survival and they are the basis for the locals’ economy.

It is confirmed the Malaysian company has conceded in this legal case and the 38,350ha of forest is safe! It is extremely rare that landowners (‘local communities’) succeed to stop an oil palm project of this size. This victory for the people Collingwood Bay is not only extremely important but also a huge one. Most of the 38,350 ha of land consist of pristine tropical forest containing extremely high levels of biological diversity.

However, KLK claim to have rights over another 5,992 hectares of forest also within Collingwood Bay, of which most is primary forest. The indigenous locals also depend on the forest within the 5,992 ha of Portion 5 State Land as a source of their livelihoods & survival.

KLK is a member of the RSPO and recently a signatory of the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto (SPOM), which declared several commitments including no deforestation in High Carbon Stock (HCS) areas. RSPO Principles & Criteria also prohibits deforestation of primary forests.

Over 80% of forest in Portion 5 State Land is primary forest and High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest.

Please sign and share the petition to tell KLK to pull out from Collingwood Bay.

Update on Jackie

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We earlier announced on our website we would be bringing you update on Jackie the orangutan.

Based on our investigation it was easy to determine that Jackie was indeed used to lure tourist money, for 20 years. Our questions to the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) following the first and only reply to our initial email has gone unanswered. None of the five follow up emails were replied. Among others we asked if the SWD would prosecute those irresponsible parties for exploiting  Jackie, and why did the SWD not take action in saving Jackie much earlier.

Due to other pressing issues and the fact that Jackie has been saved by the Sabah Wildlife Department, FOTO needs to switch attention to other issues involving orangutans in Malaysia, while we are also actively looking to expand.

However, we have asked the SWD to keep us informed on the progress of Jackie and we will contact the SWD for updates if there are none within a considerable time frame.

Here is a press release published by The Star (in July) regarding Jackie, less than 48 hours after we first contacted the SWD to enquire. There was no news regarding Jackie found available before our communication with the Sabah Wildlife Department. FOTO was not approached for our comments.


Zoo accused of pressuring TV station to remove video

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Please sign and share the petition to help the nine abused and exploited elephants at A’Famosa Resort at this link:

Remember also to join the Facebook page created to help the nine elephants

Zoo accused of pressuring TV station to remove video

Aidila Razak | 10:25AM Oct 5, 2013
A zoo operator, accused of mistreating its elephants, had allegedly pressured news broadcaster Astro Awani to retract a story on the matter.

Malaysiakini understands that the owners of A’Famosa Animal World Safari allegedly told Awani to pull down the video as well as an accompanying article from its website or face legal action.

Safari Wonderland Sdn Bhd, which runs the zoo attached to the A’Famosa Resort Hotel in Malacca, also allegedly stressed the A’Famosa group of companies’. standing relationship with the broadcaster involving support for other programmes on Astro.

However, when contacted, Safari Wonderland denied that it had any hand in Awani’s decision to withdraw its report.

“On the speculation that Astro Awani was pressured by the company to remove the article, we categorically deny any such alleged involvement on our part.

“Be that as it may, we are in no position to explain the reason why Astro Awani decided to remove the article and video.

“Perhaps, it is more appropriate for you to direct your queries to Astro Awani,” Safari Wonderland director Lau Joo Kwang said in a statement to Malaysiakini.

When contacted, Awani managing editor Suhaimi Sulaiman declined to comment.

Chained with no food or water

On Aug 25, Awani on its magazine programme ‘In Focus’ featured an investigative report on the plight of elephants kept at the A’Famosa Animal World Safari.

The report, uploaded online by animal welfare NGO Friends of the Orangutan (Foto), showed that when not parading for tourists, the elephants were kept tethered on very short chains in a cemented stall, without access to food or water.

In one section of the report, a mahout appeared to be hitting one of the elephants. The footage, however, was not very clear and was shot in stealth from a distance.
Experts interviewed by Awani said that the A’Famosa elephants look malnourished and were not treated well.

The video and the corresponding article were, however, removed two days after it was uploaded onto the broadcaster’s website.

It is believed that the report was part of a longer series on the issue, but the subsequent parts have since been shelved.

“We can only guess ‘powerful forces at play’ influenced this disappointing outcome,” Friends of the Orangutans (Foto), who had tipped off Awani on the matter, said on its website.

‘Animal welfare our main priority’

Safari Wonderland’s Lau, however, denied Awani’s report and said that the animal welfare is the zoo’s “main priority”.

“We categorically deny any alleged mistreatment of elephants at the zoo/safari park.

“On the allegation made as to the alleged beating of an elephant by a mahout, we would like to state that such an allegation is unfounded and made with the intention to tarnish the good reputation of A’Famosa,” he said.

He added that all zoos are highly regulated and that action would have been taken on A’Famosa Animal World Safari if it truly did mistreat the elephants.

“But that has never happened,” he said, adding that the company will not hesitate to take legal action on quarters who tarnish its reputation.

In an email to Malaysiakini, Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) said a probe is under way.

“Please be informed that an independent investigation team has been established by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

“We are currently not going to respond to any media until the said independent investigation report is released,” Perhilitan officer Loo Kean Seong said on behalf of the director-general.

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The plight of the elephants on parade

Disturbing visuals have emerged that point toward the alleged mistreatment and abuse of elephants that has been taking place for years at a zoo in Malacca.

A recent tip-off by an NGO called Friends of the Orangutans(FOTO) led to an investigation by Astro AWANI of the conditions of the elephants living within the care of A’Famosa Resort in Alor Gajah.

In Focus, Tuesday, 8:30pm

The results of this ‘In Focus’ probe revealed, among others:

  • That when not ‘working’, show elephants were being kept at a ‘night stall’, away from public eye.
  • Animals being chained there, some on both feet, for an unknown length of time
  • At least one elephant looked exceptionally gaunt and unhealthy
  • Dirty quarters including unwashed faeces on the cement floors
  • No readily available food or water

These conditions seem to go against some of the international standards of elephant management and care.

The Association of Zoo and Aquarium (AZA) standards says that elephants should not be subjected to
unnecessary prolonged restraint. It also says that water, mud, dust, soil or sand must be available for elephants to dust themselves to assist with thermoregulation. The captivity area used cement floor, which could lead to injuries and infections of the feet.

The AZA standards also says elephants also should be provided sufficient sheltered areas to prevent overheating or discomfort.

The quarters observed at the resort are estimated to be approximately 450 sq metres (there were five during the time of visit) but the AZA standards recommend 500 sq m per elephant.

A series of photographs dating back to 2011 indicated that the apparently poor living conditions of these elephants had not changed much for years.

These images were the basis for the investigation by FOTO and subsequently the visit by Astro AWANI.


Another shocking revelation was witnessed and captured on video camera: the beating of an elephant at the holiday destination.

Astro AWANI witnessed a man, presumably a staff of A’Famosa, beating a female elephant repeatedly with a hooked, stick-like tool while the creature cried out. The sounds of the impact of the beating were loud enough to be heard from a distance.

FOTO’s director Upreshpal Singh said that the “horrific” and “atrocious” treatment of the reported nine elephants at the resort was nothing short of “abuse”.

Upreshpal added: “These are the elephants to make profit for A’Famosa, they are used for elephant shows, they are used in elephant rides… and when they are not used, when they are not working, that’s how they are chained, behind public eye.

“The beating we witnessed was so vicious and loud… that is absolutely cruel and unacceptable,” he said.

Upreshpal also urged the authorities, namely the Department of Wildlife and National Parks(Perhilitan) to take action, pointing to Section 86 of the Wildlife Protection Act 2010 which covers offences of animal cruelty. He asked for the maximum penalty.

Upreshpal said that FOTO estimated that the elephants are chained up to 15 hours a day.

“A’famosa, must must must be prosecuted, they cannot escape anymore. They got away scotfree with the tiger photography a few years ago, and they were caught red handed keeping orangutans in cages for a long time.”

He also called for an independent veterinarian to visit the elephants, and for the animals to be freed from chains and be provided constant food and water and better habitat.

“We also have to wonder, did perhilitan not know about it, if no.. why not? Did they not know that’s how those elephants are being chained all these years? And if they do know what’s happening, and my guess is, they do know what’s happening, then why did they not take action?

At this time, a full response is yet to be provided by A’Famosa to these allegations. However, unofficially, one senior staff claimed that these complaints are new and that beatings are not practiced at the resort.

However, earlier today, Robert Na from A’Famosa commented. He said:”We refer to your e-mail dated 7 August 2013 regarding the condition of the elephants at A’Famosa and regret that the accusations that were brought to your attention were factually incorrect and was probably sent by some special interest groups.”

“I would like to clarify that the elephants are kept and maintain(sic) at international accepted standards and conditions and beating of the elephants is strictly forbidden by the management. In addition, relevant authorities periodically visit to ensure the well being of our animals.”

When contacted, Perhilitan deputy director-general Dr Zaaba Zainol Abidin said that the department was unaware of these serious claims but asked for an investigation to be carried out.

Zaaba’s statement contradicted that of another officer who shared that he was aware of the poor conditions but had simply notified enforcement with no further follow up.

Following Zaaba’s orders, the Melaka perhilitan director Mohammad Khairi Ahmad later told Astro AWANI that the last audit in April showed that A’Famosa practices were satisfactory.

After a visit to the resort following our queries, Khairi said:“We are of the view that there were no mistreatment and therefore deny any allegations to that effect. The conditions (of the elephants) are all okay, the place (where they are kept) is clean and there is no contravention of our Act”

In the full In Focus report, Astro AWANI also spoke to several experts and NGOs on this case, including consultant wildlife and zoo veterinarian Associate Professor Dr S Vellayan, former Perhilitan director-general Mohd Khan Momin Khan, and Malaysian Nature Society head of conservation Balu Perumal.

To watch more of the episode “the plight of the elephants on parade”, tune in to ‘In Focus’ tonight(Tuesday, Aug 20) 8.30pm, exclusively on Astro AWANI.


NOTE:  Link to the online article has been removed from the Astro Awani website, which is the original source of the above article.


Plight of the elephants on parade

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The A’famosa Resort (2 hours south of Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital) is first and foremost a golf and entertainment holiday resort. In the adjoining A’Famosa Safari Wonderland zoo illegally obtained (wild caught in  Indonesia) orangutans have in the past been discovered but the resort was never prosecuted.

This same resort had humiliated its orangutans, a totally protected species, by making them perform tricks, play golf, ride bicycles,  among others. The same orangutans were then hidden behind public view in barren cages, and the zoo was again exposed.

This time resort have been exposed by Friends of the Orangutans for shocking treatment of elephants in their possession. When not made to offer rides and perform in elephant shows, the elephants are chained in a cruel manner for, we believe up to 15 hours a day, with no readily available drinking water and food available. A mahut (elephant trainer/handler) has also been caught on video sadistically hitting an elephant. Pictures available in our Gallery page, and the same pictures are also available in the ‘A’Famosa’s Abused and Exploited Elephants Need Our Help‘ Facebook page created and maintained by FOTO supporters at the link below:


Malaysian based station Astro Awani premiered ‘Plight of the elephants on parade’ on 20th August 2013. This 25 minute programme exposes the atrocities A’Famosa Resort’s elephants are forced to live through.

To our shock, link to this video was taken down only 48 hours after it went online, as with the article alongside the video. We can only guess ‘powerful forces at play’ influenced this disappointing outcome. The article though can be accessed through this link, while FOTO has uploaded the 25 minute programme here:

The resort management have claimed innocence and the Malaysian wildlife department has shockingly defended the management, read their statements at the link below.

We have announced our demands which will be published in our Press Statement which we have sent out on 30th August, it will be posted here and the ‘A’Famosa’s Abused and Exploited Elephants Need Our Help‘ Facebook page.

Action plans for you to take once will be announced here and the page above if we see the wildlife department still refusing to take immediate action once our Press Statement is out in the media. Stay tuned for updates.

Please do support our campaign to help the elephants at A’Famosa Resort, they are depending on us all.

80% of rainforests in Malaysian Borneo logged

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“80 percent of the rainforests in Malaysian Borneo have been heavily impacted by logging, finds a comprehensive study that offers the first assessment of the spread of industrial logging and logging roads across areas that were considered some of Earth’s wildest lands less than 30 years ago.”

Click here to read this stunning report on Mongabay’s website.

“Biofuel”: EU destroys 700,000 hectares of rainforest

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The plantations needed to produce the palm oil cover an area of 700,000 hectares – land that until recently was still rainforest and the habitat of endangered orangutans. Despite the clear-cutting of the rainforests, the EU has classified palm oil as sustainably produced.”

We have a request from Rainforest Rescue to help get signatures for this important petition above to urge the EU to ditch biofuel. Please sign and share.

Next, please write to these 16 EU members important for biofuel lobbying. Simply copy and paste and use these emails:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Again, simply copy and paste this below in your email body (its from the petition above), and send. That’s all! (better still, write in your own thoughts!).


Ladies and Gentlemen,

To my great consternation, I have learnt that the European Commission plans to uphold its policy of promoting “biofuels” – despite the fact that they not only lead to more hunger in the world, but also have catastrophic consequences for the environment and the climate. Worldwide, industrial monocultures are spreading at the expense of natural ecosystems and destroying biodiversity.
Environmentalists, human-rights activists, scientists, development experts and even international organizations such as the United Nations and the OECD have demanded for years that the EU put an end to its harmful biofuel policy.

Even the findings of scientific studies undertaken on behalf the European Commission show that biodiesel from palm, soybean and rapeseed oil causes more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil diesel fuel.

Moreover, biofuel production also consumes huge quantities of water, as well as fertilizers and pesticides that pollute the environment and adversely impact human health. Even here in Europe, farmland birds are disappearing because their habitat is being lost to rapeseed monocultures.
None of these serious problems can be solved by setting a limit of five percent for agrofuels derived from foodstuffs and counting the volumes from agrofuels from waste and cellulose in quadruple, as the Commission is proposing now.

Please abolish the mandatory blending of agrofuels and eliminate all related tax benefits, subsidies and imports immediately.

The human right to food, the preservation of biodiversity and the protection of the environment must take priority over the one-sided business interests of the agrofuels industry.

Yours sincerely,

Thank you for caring, friend of the orangutans!

Jackie the orangutan

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Jackie is a 22-year old female orangutan who according to the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), “spent most of the last two decades “spoilt” with junk food in Ranau”. In March this year Jackie was transferred to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park zoo in Kota Kinabalu (KK), Sabah. According to the SWD “She came into Sabah Park’s care since she was two years old after she was found and handed over  by a villager residing adjacent to Kinabalu Park some 20 years ago“. We have not been told why she was not sent to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre instead.

Jackie was exploited in the popular Poring Hot Springs area in Ranau (which is under the jurisdiction of Sabah Parks), approximately 2.5 hours from KK, as a tourist attraction, and her body weight ballooned to an amazing 100kgs.

The staff of the SWD have successfully managed to reduce Jackie’s weight to 85kgs and she has not so far shown any sign of diseases despite years of human contact and a terrible diet. A government paper, ‘The Star’ implies Jackie will be released back into the wild, however it cannot be determined as yet if she can go back to live where an orangutan should.

Updates to come. Below are links we found on the Internet regarding Jackie, with pictures in them. At the bottom is a video of Jackie with tourists.