Indonesian zoo considers sacrificing deer to save carnivores

It's meal time for the tigers at the Bandung Zoo in Indonesia.

But these carnivores have been on a smaller, stricter diet, not because they need to lose weight, but rather to preserve food stocks.

The zoo's revenue has dried up since it closed on March 23 to comply with lockdown measures.

Spokesperson Sulfan Syfahi'i says the zoo can only afford to feed its 850 animals until July.

After that, they may have to consider sacrificing some of its animals to feed the others.

"We are planning for the worst-case scenario. We have around thirty dotted deer, and we have identified the old and unproductive ones (that can no longer breed) to be slaughtered to save the carnivores, such as the Sumatran tiger and Javan leopard, which we think are more important."

Syafi'i says the zoo requires 400 kg of fruit every day and more than 120 kg of meat every other day.

But now, it relies on food and money donations.

Carnivores like tiger Fitri are receiving 8 kilograms of meat instead of 10, every two days.

And while the zoo is still meeting minimum welfare standards, Syafi'i also says the rationed diets could lead to greater health risks for the animals and changes in their habits.

Orangutan caretaker Aep Saepudin has seen those changes first-hand.

"When they are inside the cage, they have rage and throw things. The food is finished but they still want to eat. Maybe they are not yet full. If they were full, they would not do that. Sometimes when I sit, they throw things at me. It sometimes hits me, but sometimes not. Sometimes with their feces too, at me. So that means, yes, (the food) is not enough."

The Bandung zoo is not alone in its struggles.

The Indonesia Zoo Association estimates that 92% of the country's zoos, home to nearly 5,000 animals, will only be able to feed their animals until the end of the month.