April 2, 2020

Minister prioritizing focus on 81 zoos during COVID-19

JAKARTA ( - The coronavirus pandemic is having an impact on the fate of wildlife in 81 zoos in 20 provinces under the control of the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry. Financing these zoos, aside from the state budget, is derived from their operations as tourism destinations.

However, in order to enforce social and physical distancing as a way of slowing the spread of COVID-19, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has taken various preventive measures (Mar 23), including the closing of zoos as tourism sites. 

These closures mean that income from tourism, which is mainly used to help the zoos to operate, including through the provision of care and food to the wildlife, has fallen to zero.

“I have refocused our ministry's state budget so that it is allocated, among other things, to ensure the wildlife in these 81 zoos are adequately fed and cared for during the COVID-19 crisis," said Minister Nurbaya (Mar 31).

“In addition, we are also continuing to collaborate with third parties, especially in the provision of food for the wildlife in the zoos," she added.

Below are recent photos of some key wildlife species in Indonesian zoos. These critically-endangered species have also been affected at a certain level by COVID-19 due to the loss of revenue allocated for their care and feeding from the closure of 81 Indonesian zoos to tourism.

Among the top priorities

Meanwhile, the Ministry's Nature Resources and Ecosystem Conservation Director General Wiratno said (Apr 1) that Minister Nurbaya has decided to make dealing with Indonesia’s zoos, including the impact on businesses associated with them, one of the top priorities during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“At the level of zoos, as the authorized director general, I am ensuring that this top priority receives the proper focus, especially with regard to our efforts to meet the various needs of wildlife in zoos on a daily basis," said Wiratno. 

He explained that relevant plans to anticipate the uncertainty over how long the COVID-19 outbreak will last have been prepared, especially for the short and medium term.

“We have made these moves to ensure that wildlife in zoos continues to be looked after seriously. In addition to mobilizing additional state budget, we also have to ensure that zoo operations continue even though they are closed to tourism," he added.

“The efforts needed to ensure that the 81 zoos are handled in a way that they run normally in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak are clearly quite significant. For this reason, this is one of the top priorities for our ministry," said Wiratno in conclusion.

In addition to these steps, to avoid serious complications - a situation where the spread of COVID-19 and haze-causing fires occur simultaneously - Minister Nurbaya also continues to mobilize the ministry's firefighters to combat the expansion of forest and land fires, especially in Sumatra and Kalimantan, as previously reported by (Mar 30).