Singer Morrissey calls for closure of 'horror' Indonesian zoo

Singer Morrisey calls for closure of 'horror' Indonesian zooAFP/Getty

British singer Morrissey, former frontman of The Smiths, has called on the Indonesian government to immediately close down a zoo in eastern Java that has been described as a 'death camp' for animals.

The Surabaya Zoo has come under fire many times over the ill treatment and care of its animals, 500 of which died there in 2010 and 2011.

A letter written by animal rights activist Morrissey was made available to the AFP news service by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

It was addressed to the Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan and was delivered before the singer delivered a solo performance in Jakarta last week.

It said: "Your ministry called for a change at the Surabaya Zoo, but no improvements have been made," the vegetarian and animal rights activist wrote in the letter, made available to AFP by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

"There can be no justification for seemingly endless debates and delays while animals continue to suffer and die. Please take immediate action to close the Surabaya Zoo and transfer its animals to more suitable environments."

The plight of its last surviving giraffe, Kilwon, who died after plastic litter thrown by tourists weighing 18kg was found in his stomach, brought fresh allegations of mistreatment in March this year.

Emaciated tigers and 180 pelicans packed so tightly in one cage that they cannot move were also reportedly found.

According to reports in the Daily Mail, there have also been persistent suspicions that members of the staff at Surabaya Zoo are also involved in illegal wildlife trafficking.

The Associated Press reports that sixteen tigers are kept in a prison-like row of concrete cages, and one white tiger who has been at the zoo 20 years is covered by skin lesions and is unable to stand up properly.

After the death of Kilwon the giraffe, Tim Phillips, campaigns director at Animal Defenders International, also called for the closure of the zoo.

He said: "This was a tragic, pointless and painful death of an animal living in miserable conditions," he said. "With all the natural wonders and beauty of Indonesia you have to ask why such a horrible exhibit is allowed to continue where animals live and die in miserable pens."

But the Forestry Ministry told AFP that the problems at the zoo had been "overblown", and there were no plans to close it down.

Tim Phillips added: "Tourists and locals need to turn their back on these unnatural exhibitions, and instead enjoy the country's natural flora and fauna, and support genuine conservation projects helping animals in the wild.

"Establishments like this do nothing for conservation nor animal welfare and, as can be seen from recent tragic incidents, the animals are utterly vulnerable. Surabaya Zoo should be closed."

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