Wednesday, March 2, 2016

More Disturbing News out of Phú Quốc Safari

More Disturbing News out of Phú Quốc Safari

On the 15th February I wrote and published an article 'Disturbing News out of Phú Quốc Safari' based on information I was being sent. I saw this in part as a duty to the zoo community but mainly because I was concerned about the welfare of the animals. This place was obviously not ready to take in stock, it was running before it could walk.

My informants had stated that "over 1000 birds and nearly 700 mammals had died and....around 500 monkeys and numerous birds have escaped into the island".

I believe such figures would concern anyone and they definitely bothered me. Perhaps the stated numbers were exaggerated, perhaps not, because I doubt that without the fullest cooperation of all concerned that we will ever get the true numbers. What is more I would have written exactly the same article based on the figures which the VinGroup now admit to.

My article generated a huge amount of interest from the press, mainly Vietnamese, and I had offers of radio and press interviews from as far off as the US. I turned all of these down (I always do) but no doubt mingled among the genuine were those trying to source where I had got the information. I am not about to give up on my sources.

I suppose, only naturally, there was a denial from Phú Quốc Safari and inspectors that any of this was true. Then they came out with a statement to say Recent rumors that animals died en masse at Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc are false, and Vingroup admitted that more than 100 birds and animals died because of the impact of the long shipping process, which weakened the animals. Also, they were trying to adapt to the new environment, soil and climate.

The distance from Singapore is not so far so this would hardly explain the deaths of the Flamingos.

According to the press release issued on Sunday (Feb. 21), 135 monkeys (originating from Vietnam) weighing between 150gr -200gr escaped from cages, which were designed for larger monkeys.

Now this is interesting because elsewhere they state that these were Long Tailed Macaques which actually weigh around 320gr at birth and 5-7 Kg when adult. So what kind of cage design are we looking at? Furthermore there was no mention of the Hamadryas Baboon, Gibbons and others which also escaped and they neglected to mention.

So 135 monkeys (from Vietnam) escape into an area of forest where they have not previously occurred is going to have a disastrous effect on the local ecology. If the species does occur locally then it is going to be pure hell for the social dynamics. 500 or 135… is just as bad and simply not acceptable. 

They stated that the twelve giraffes were all fine:
“These 12 giraffes brought from Africa have all adapted well, and none of them have died as reported online,” zoo manager Pham Tuan Linh told Tuoi Tre.

I am delighted that these 12 giraffe are fine but I am told they imported 36. So where are the other 24? The death of any animal is significant and you simply cannot brush the deaths of 24 large animals under the carpet and hope they go away.

The number of animals that died due to environmental shock is within an acceptable range,” Acceptable to who exactly? They are certainly not acceptable me and I suspect are not acceptable to any reputable zoo anywhere.

No endangered animal has died at Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc Zoo Park, the southern Kien Giang Province's department of agriculture and rural development said in its latest report.

said the death ratio of below 5 percent at a new zoo is “normal."

An interesting observation which, I imagine, has a basis of truth. However the time frame is what is significant here. This place has only been open a couple of months. 5% in one or two years would seem more realistic to me. But of course we really have no idea what has died because they won't tell us.

What about the Pangolins? No new zoo should ever move into a species it has no expertise to deal with. Very few collections have managed to maintain the species long term. They are not something to play with. How many Pangolins died?

Phú Quốc Safari are still importing stock. Only recently they have imported Scimitar Horned Oryx, Gaur, Kangaroos, Lemurs and others.

The story of the Rhinos was a huge surprise. Who knew that these 14 animals were already in Vietnam and owned by My Quynh Zoo (a SEAZA member)? This needs a whole new investigation. Where did they come from? When did they arrive? I have seen another report of 16 rhinos but I will give them the benefit of the doubt that there are 14.

It is very difficult to get any information because people are frightened to talk out. I reckon I am going to put any future visit to Vietnam on hold for quite some time.

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