For the record, no one cares more for animals than me. OK, slight exaggeration, but if I come across an injured bird, a runaway dog, anything furry or feathered in any kind of need, I'm there, picking up the small and injured, chasing the stray until caught and phoning the owners or delivering them to vets. But a zoo filled with the kind of needy creatures that I'd seen on Andrew's computer was something different. This was going to be tough -- but he had trapped me. I had to go.
I have to say now that I am grateful to my forceful friend for his determination to get me to pay the entrance fee and walk through the zoo's entrance. Because what I saw, and what I subsequently wrote about, will, I hope, add to the growing pressure for action to turn this place of horrors into an efficiently-run animal sanctuary, where the "inhabitants" have space, ample food and are regularly checked by vets.
After my story was published in the Daily Mail, it was picked up by publications around the world, in newspapers and on websites and the response has been overwhelming -- dozens of petitions and, in one organizer's estimation, more than one million signatures.
Most people simply want the zoo closed down, but that is easier said than done: What would happen to the animals? I have been told that no other zoo in Indonesia will take them amid fears that they are either too sick to be moved or they might be carrying diseases because of the lack of care.
"I was last here weeks ago," said Andrew as we wandered around this miserable place, "and it now seems worse than ever."
We had stopped by a young elephant that was lifting one leg up and down. Its other three legs were shackled. It could not move in any direction. And the manacle on one of the legs had cut into the skin, resulting in a vet who later saw the photograph to lament that the leg was in danger of becoming seriously infected.