Earlier this week, a 65-year-old former zoo owner was arrested in connection with the suspected poisoning deaths of a sun bear and a retired race horse. The animals were found dead at the popular Malacca Zoo and Night Safari in Ayer Keroh an initial investigation pointed to poison-tainted fruit.
When the workers first noticed the seven-year-old bear, it was already in convulsions and foaming at mouth. The 17-year-old stallion, however, was found dead in its stable. Police later on found a variety of fruits e.g. sugarcane, bananas, and oranges near the dead animals that had white powder inside, believed to be pesticide.
According to the Superintendent P.R. Gunarajan, the Malacca state deputy chief of criminal investigations, the man (who was previously involved in the management of a zoo in Johor) was acting out a vendetta. It is believed that he did it because he could not get back the animals, which were sent to the Malacca Zoo.
The man is now expected to be charged for “mischief” towards animals and if convicted, it carries a penalty of up to five years in jail plus a hefty fine.
Meanwhile, the case has taken a new twist when it was alleged that some 230 zoo animals were “unaccounted” for. Dr Razeem Mazlan Abdullah, who is the animal welfare and ethics sub-committee chairman of the zoo operators, breeders, pet and wildlife traders association (P4PHM), said the list of missing animals included over 100 mammals, 27 reptiles, and 57 birds of various species that vanished without a trace.
No one knows what had happened to the missing animals or where they’ve been placed or transferred to. The former zoo management has been asked to explain the discrepancies in the list of animals.