Yusof said yesterday he made a quick visit to the zoo to check out the anti-palm oil signs outside the orang utan enclosures and was appalled at the way the animals were screaming for attention in the cold winter.
"They were shivering and were in distress. Orang utans are tropical animals and find it hard to survive in biting cold temperatures. At the Melbourne Zoo, the orang utans had only sackcloth to cover themselves.
"Even then, the sackcloth was small and they were struggling to get it round their bodies. I felt sorry for these poor animals. Unlike human beings, orang utans cannot complain and their screams appeared to be ignored by the zoo."
Yusof said he could not believe his eyes when he saw food for the orang utans being placed in the open so that visitors could see how the animals ate. "This was a poor show pandering to the people but cruel to the orang utans."
Yusof, who is accompanying Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok on an eight-day working mission to Australia, said Australian animal welfare authorities should investigate the pathetic conditions of the orang utans at the zoo, as well as other zoos in the country.
"The zoo must understand that these are animals from the tropics and adequate protection should be given to them during winter. Their enclosures must be warm and comfortable."
Yusof suspects that having the orang utans in such degrading captivity was to win public support in the campaign against a tropical industry and the use of palm oil products. He said having anti-palm oil signs at the zoo was to win public sympathy and to misrepresent the orang utan issue.
"Australians must visit orang utan sanctuaries in Malaysia and see how well the animals are taken care of. There is something sinister behind the campaign by western non-governmental organisations to ruin the palm oil industry." -- Bernama