For many years animal welfare groups have been working tirelessly to improve captive wild animal welfare in Malaysian zoos, and in 2012 they had reason to rejoice; the Malaysian zoo regulatory legislation had been updated meaning all zoos were required by law to meet these new higher animal welfare legislation standards. These Wildlife Conservation (Operation of Zoo) Regulations 2012 were a big step in the right direction, supporting efforts by NGOs, local universities and the government, and tackling the persistently poor zoo animal welfare seen within Malaysian zoos. Seen as some of the best regulations within Southeast Asia, PERHILITAN (the Malaysian wildlife and nature department) the regulatory body for zoos, were stringent in its enforcement, resulting in the closure of some zoos and confiscation of animals. However, with approximately over 30 captive wild animal facilities (zoos) in Malaysia the standard of animal welfare in some of the zoos is still poor, many still failing to meet all the new regulations.
Securing a safe environment for the rich wildlife of Malaysia is important to the Malaysian public and government alike, reflected in the regulations for captive wildlife, with PERHILITAN remaining committed to enforcing these regulations. However it will take concerted effort and continued effective education, cooperation, training and support to meet these new regulatory standards and give all captive wild animals in Malaysia a better chance at a happier and healthier life.
Appropriate environmental, dietary and mental stimulation can enrich captive wild animal's lives, and have an extremely positive effect on an individual's welfare within captivity. However many animals are still suffering from little or no environmental enrichment within their cages. The new regulations required larger enclosures, and within one particular zoo this has resulted in the walls literally being bashed through to join one cage with another. Although some of the animals observed are housed in more naturally-styled environments, many are still housed in enclosures with cement flooring and stale enclosure upholstery, resulting in even the most inquisitive and optimistic of individuals to become bored, frustrated and lethargic through the lack of stimulation.