KUALA LUMPUR: Zoo Negara desperately needs more visitors and sponsors for its animals, particularly its Malayan tigers, to cover its operational costs and expansion in line with its status as a national zoo.
Zoo Negara Malaysia deputy president Rosly @ Rahmat Ahmat Lana said the management needed RM500,000 a year to care for its tigers.
“It costs RM100 a day to feed the Malayan tigers while the Bengal ones eat 10kg of meat, or RM200 worth, a day. This boils down to RM40,000 per tiger a year, including their medicine.
“Factoring in the zookeepers’ expenses, we need about RM500,000 a year. Ideally, to expand and make the zoo a focus of Asian tiger observation, we need about RM1 million annually.
“This can also come through private sponsorship, where companies can sponsor one or more animals for as long as they like. They can also name the newborns.”
He said five-year federal grants of RM5 million that the zoo used to receive had ended in 2004, and it now survived on one-off government aid for maintenance and upkeep.
“We have been spending RM1 million to RM1.2 million a month for the last three years and we need to have at least 500,000 visitors to break even from ticket sales, among others.
“The fact that we are spending all we are getting leaves no room for expansion of the zoo as a facility for education, conservation and scientific research.”
Rosly also lamented the decline in visitors from 2015 onwards.
Zoo Negara had clocked a record of 708,000 visitors in 2014, when China presented Malaysia with two giants pandas, Xing Xing and Liang Liang.
“In 2016, we had 435,000 visitors only and it sank to 345,000. But the figure recovered slightly with 368,000 people coming in last year. But it’s still an overall decline.”
He, however, said the zoo looked forward to meeting Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar, who is expected to open their new tiger “immersion centre”, complete with an elevated passageway that the ministry funded.
“We will be inviting Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Gombak member of parliament Datuk Seri Azmin Ali,
who is the economic affairs minister.
“We look forward to sitting down with the government to chart the way ahead for Zoo Negara as a conservation, education and research facility, as well as play a role as a stakeholder in drafting policies for conservation, zoos and captive breeding as a whole.
“We also hope that they actively campaign to publicise our zoo in Malaysia and internationally as it is the emblem for conservation.”
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