The use of wild animals in circuses and public interactions is inherently dangerous. This was stated in a letter of the Asia for Animal Coalition, to the Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry, Dr. Siti Nurbaya Bakar with carbon copy sent to the Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
In the letter, which was also sent to the Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group, the coalition expressed deep concerns with regards to both the safety of the public and the welfare of the animals during animal interaction sessions and animal performances in zoos and safari parks in Indonesia.
“The use of wild animals in circuses and public interactions is inherently dangerous, particularly to staff who work with the animals, and to children who encounter them through rides and photo opportunities,” the coalition stated in the letter.
“The risks that many animals used in such interactions,” the letter said further, “pose to public health and safety through direct attack, escape or temporary loss of handler control increases considerably because of poor animal welfare conditions, inadequate safety measures, and excessive handling.”
According to the coalition, members of the public have little idea of how to safely handle wild animals or the dangers they expose themselves to by being in such close-proximity. In many cases, people have been killed or seriously injured due to these interactions.
The coalition also explained that on 15th March, a tiger cub in such an interaction reportedly attacked a 4-year old boy at the Batu Zoo (Jatim Park). This follows the 25th February incident which documented two lion cubs being used as photo props and interacting with a child at Taman Safari Prigen, Pasuruan (East Java).
“We urge you to work with local and international groups to strengthened laws safeguarding animal welfare nationwide, ensuring they serve as venues of education and to promote conservation of wildlife, not animal exploitation and abuse,” the coalition said.
The letter was sent to the Minister on behalf of 15 animal lovers organisations: Animal Guardians, Animal People, Animals Asia Foundation, ACRES, Blue Cross of India, Change for Animals Foundation, Elephant Aid International, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Philippine Animal Welfare Society, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Hong Kong), Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Sarawak, Malaysia), and World Animal Protection.
This coalition is supported by 149 animal lovers’ organisations worldwide.