Zoo accused of pressuring TV station to remove video

posted in: News | 0

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.