Animal experts say orangutans in zoo are not depressed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 12:00am

I refer to Lesley B. Lahm's most recent letter about the orangutans in the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, headlined 'Significant habitat changes needed' (South China Morning Post, May 7).

Over the years, various animal behaviourists and zoo experts have visited our orangutans, among them, Ashley E. Leiman, director of the Orangutan Foundation (UK) and Dr John Mackinnon, one of the world's leading experts on the behaviour of wild, semi-captive and captive orangutans. They commented favourably on the living conditions of our orangutans. Recently, Dr Roger Mugford, animal psychologist from the UK's Animal Behaviour Centre and Gary Priest, curator of applied behaviour from the Zoological Society of San Diego, had a close look at our orangutans and considered that none of them were depressed.

The argument about the need to keep our animals free from strongyloidiasisis is certainly not specious. According to our senior veterinary officer, we have been singularly successful in preventing this potentially fatal infection from affecting our group of orangutans.

We are now reviewing the development feasibility of the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. The well-being of the orangutans and that of other animals in the gardens will be carefully looked into.

Ms Lahm may be rest assured that we are committed to providing all of our animals with appropriate and acceptable living conditions.


for Director of Leisure and Cultural Services