Experts call for improved zoo standards

Animal professionals, gathered in Bali for the first international Animal Training and Enrichment Conference (ATEC), called on zoos across the globe to increase their standards of animal husbandry. Natural Encounters, Inc. president Steve Martin said Monday that a full commitment from zoos to preserve the environment and animals was important as he saw that natural habitats were starting to degrade. He said it was the duty of humans — zookeepers and animal trainers in particular — to take action.

Martin is a famous animal trainer, who has worked with Disney’s Animal Kingdom, San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Elephant Management School in Hamburg, Germany. He said that zoos should start to become environmental preservers instead of just using nature for profit. In addition to nature preservation, Martin added that animal training and enrichment was needed to keep the animals in a stable condition and prevent them from becoming stressed. “Nowadays, a lot of zoos are making connections with visitors by way of giraffe feeding opportunities,” he mentioned as an example.

ATEC, which is being held by Bali Safari and Marine Park, will run through Dec. 5. Hundreds of international, as well as domestic, professionals are participating in the event. Firsthand information from renowned zoologists and observers will be presented in the next three days of the conference. Hans Manansang, the park’s general manager, said the hosting of the conference was his team’s commitment to the tender care of its animal population and the education of the community for the need to foster a mutually beneficial coexistence with the animal kingdom.

“By gathering experts from around the world at ATEC, we hope to share and obtain ideas and insights that will complement the park’s commitment to captive breeding and animal husbandry programs,” Hans said. Hans added that zoos should not only think of economic motives but to also consider the animals’ conditions. “Enrichment and training are very important to animals so that they don’t stress. We have to also think about their welfare,” he said. He also expressed hopes that such a conference could be held again in the following years.

Meanwhile, an internationally renowned zoologist and zookeeper, Bernard Harrison, believed that up to 90 percent of zoos in the world should be shut down as they did not present or treat the animals properly. Harrison, who is a huge fan of zoos, was former CEO of the Singapore Zoological Garden and famous for creating enclosures that resemble playgrounds instead of cages. He said that zoos were designed to exhibit the animals to visitors, let them know about the species, their habitat and connection with humans, and that those failing to do so were not fit to operate.

source : bali daily

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