Ragunan Zoo: Pitiful Animal Prison

The Ragunan Zoo imprisons more than 3,000 animals—including elephants, hippopotamuses, tigers, black bears, gorillas, kangaroos, Komodo lizards, and many wild birds—in conditions that could never compare to the vast jungles and forests that these animals are used to. Moats filled with dirty water flank desolate enclosures where lonely and miserable animals languish in their prison homes.

"[Elephants] are actually very poor candidates for life in captivity. … Their requirements are so substantial—it is probably beyond the capabilities of most zoos to even begin to resolve."

—David Hancocks, former director of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington

The facility houses approximately 10 Sumatran elephants. On the day that PETA's investigator visited the zoo, one elephant was penned in an area no bigger than an average bedroom. The elephant was violently throwing his head against the gate, while two others stood chained at the back of another enclosure. Unable to move more than a few inches in any direction, the animals paced repeatedly and swayed their heads from side to side. These repetitive, abnormal, and often self-destructive behaviors are symptoms of a psychological disorder known as "zoochosis."

Sumatran elephants travel in close-knit family herds and have home ranges of up to 400 hectares, but the entire Rangunan Zoo measures only 147 hectares. Roaming is an essential activity for these magnificent, active animals. In the wild, Sumatran elephants graze, pluck fruit and leaves from trees, take mud baths, and spend hours a day swimming and playing in the water. The elephants in the Ragunan Zoo lack comparable stimulation, spending their lives shackled and bored.

To add to the cruelty inflicted on animals every day at the Ragunan Zoo, horses are forced to drag carts full of visitors around the zoo's perimeter at dangerous speeds in the sweltering Jakarta heat. Some animals were seen limping and panting heavily as they struggled to pull overloaded carts. The zoo also hosts daily animal shows—including camel and elephant rides—and lets hawkers sell goldfish in plastic bags for visitors to take home as "souvenirs."

Zoos claim that they educate people and preserve species, but they rarely succeed on either count. Zoos present visitors with a distorted view of wildlife. Even the biggest zoos cannot provide the space, exercise, privacy, or mental stimulation needed by the animals they imprison, much less fulfill their other complex needs.

You can help! Please contact the Jakarta Department of Tourism and urge it to show its commitment to animal welfare by not promoting the Ragunan Zoo or any other animal attraction!

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