Malaysia’s national zoo found itself in hot water today after images of rats scurrying about inside a penguin enclosure surfaced online and drew criticism.
A man named Li Junhao shared a 20-second video and three photos yesterday that were purportedly captured at the zoo. The clip showed at least three rodents scurrying around while the penguins were inside.
One of the photos showed rats surrounding a metal container and one of them sticking its head into it. According to Li, it contained sardines and anchovies that were meant for the penguins.
“It really hurts to see the hopeless look of a penguin who is isolated and helpless in Zoo Negara, Malaysia,” Li said. “I hope the management will look into this carefully instead of turning a blind eye.”
Neither the video nor photos showed zookeepers on the ground. The national zoo, also known as Zoo Negara, has yet to respond publicly about this.
The video has been shared over 3,600 times since it went up yesterday. The national zoo has responded to the slew of angry comments on its Facebook page ever since, saying that it was preparing an official response.
“We hope everyone gives us a chance to improve on this situation. An official statement will be released by the management to media outlets shortly,” it said.
It also did not immediately respond to Coconuts KL’s request for comment this afternoon.
The penguins are identified as the South American Humboldts. According to the zoo’s website, there are eight penguins in the enclosure, transported all the way from the Czech Republic Zoo as part of a captive breeding program.
The National Geographic states that these carnivorous birds can survive the heat and can expel body heat through its featherless spots.
Netizens weighing in on the matter questioned the penguin’s living environment and whether donations collected for the zoo earlier this year were being put to good use. Donations worth RM 300,000 were given to the zoo to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Would there be rats if the ambient temperature (in the enclosure) was cold enough?” Li wrote in a separate comment.
“There are rats, which means it’s not cold inside. Look at how bad the living environment is for the penguins,” Facebook user Sun Bo said.
“Where did all the donations go?” another user Nancy See asked.
“I hope they did not use the donation money to raise the rats,” Jy Zai chimed in.
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