KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 (Bernama) -- Protected animals should be in their habitat and not kept captive as pets, said Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president, Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail.
His comments come after singer, Zarith Sofia Yasin, was caught last week for keeping a sun bear in her condominium apartment in Desa Pandan, here.
She said she found the cub looking very weak about a fortnight ago in Bukit Ampang.
However, "having the rich or celebrities adopt zoo animals will help to reduce the burden of maintenance cost and increase the number of visitors.
"Not only this, their sponsorship will contribute to the betterment of conservation programmes at the zoo," he told Bernama.
He said previously there were many corporations and individuals adopting animals, including tigers which were adopted by Maybank and the orang utan by some individuals.
"This can prevent the culture of keeping wildlife as pets. We are worried that when the cost of caring for these animals becomes expensive, the animals will end up in the zoo, released in the wilderness or die in captivity," he said.
It would also be good to donate to wildlife groups like MNS that campaign for nature protection and against poachers, as well as educate the public on conservation.
“Poaching continues because there is a demand for wild animals, especially for the meat and as pets. It is difficult to eradicate poaching and smuggling because of new communication technologies and the large sums of money involved in the trade.
"To reduce the poaching and smuggling, we need cooperation from all agencies as well as support from the public," he said.
Zoo Negara zoology, Veterinary Hospital and Giant Panda Conservation Centre (GPCC) director, Dr Mat Naim Ramli, said animal lovers have the option of funding one or a group of animals at the zoo.
"For now, the highest cost involved is for the maintenance of the carnivores, like the lions, tigers, white tigers, cheetahs and caracals," he said, adding the second highest food bill is for the more than 800 painted storks that eat up to 150kg of fish a day.
"Other species that require sponsors are the chimpanzees, orang utans and bears. Sponsors can choose a favourite species at Zoo Negara," he said.