Will Singapore Zoo stop Coco the chimp’s suffering?

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Published 4 November 2020

Coco, the chimpanzee, was born at Singapore Zoo and has been kept alone in a small enclosure at Melaka Zoo for almost ten years. We asked Singapore Zoo if it will accept her, but the zoo is yet to inform us if it will take responsibility and take Coco back to the zoo, which labels itself as the “World’s Best Rainforest Zoo”.

CLICK HERE to tweet to Singapore Zoo to ask them to transfer Coco to the zoo. You can also write to Singapore Zoo – details at the bottom of this page.

We previously revealed that an accredited chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa was ready to receive Coco, and her transfer would have come at no cost to Melaka Zoo. Disappointingly, the zoo management did not inform if it would accept our proposals. Our first proposal was sent to the management in November 2018.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Coco cannot be sent to the sanctuary.

In late September we asked Dr Luis Carlos Neves, Director of Zoology at Singapore Zoo if the zoo can accept Coco. Dr Neves informed us on 28 September that he had contacted the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (MAZPA) to “inform them about the concerns” we raised. We have not heard from Dr Neves or the Singapore Zoo management since.

The president of MAZPA, Dr Kevin Lazarus, is the director Taiping Zoo. In January 2019, Zanariah Khamis, the current Melaka Zoo director, informed that the zoo had agreed to send Coco to Taiping Zoo. Coco is still at Melaka Zoo.


Left: Coco’s deplorable night den at Melaka Zoo (July 2018 image). Right: Her outdoor enclosure

As of 2018 32 chimps have been born at Singapore Zoo. We believe the zoo needlessly breeds chimpanzees. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) does not include any chimpanzee species in its list of wildlife species for which captive breeding has been recommended as a conservation action.

Almost 20 years ago it was exposed for sending surplus chimpanzees to inferior zoos outside Singapore. But its management has the moral obligation to stop Coco’s suffering and relocate her Singapore Zoo as soon as practically possible. Coco should be given the best of care and treatment for the rest of her life at the zoo, and it must not breed her.

Singapore Zoo, a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), is owned by the Singapore government.

Melaka Zoo was previously managed by PERHILITAN and in 2013 the Melaka Hang Tuah Jaya Municipal Council (MPHTJ) took ownership of the zoo and leased it to a private entity. In October 2018, the management of the zoo was returned to the Melaka state government and the MPHTJ has governed the zoo since then. A new director was also installed.

How can you help Coco? See below.

  • Tweet. We have prepared a tweet for you send now. Simply CLICK HERE to tweet.
  • Leave a polite comment on the Facebook of the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). The WRS manages Singapore Zoo.
  • Write to Dr Neves. If you do not have time to draft an email, copy contents from this article.


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