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. Animal activists slam plans for Malaysian tiger park

Feeding and housing the tigers can be financially draining as food alone could costs up to 30,000 ringgit (8,230 dollars) per animal per year.
by Staff Writers
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) March 22, 2009
A coalition of wildlife groups in Malaysia have criticised plans by northern Penang to set up a 40 hectare (100 acre) tiger park, saying it could hurt the state's tourist industry.

The park would also go against the central government's commitment to protect and increase tiger populations in the wild, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MyCat) said in a letter over the weekend to the state's chief minister.

The department of wildlife and national parks aims to double the country's remaining 500-strong wild tiger population.

"Building zoos and wildlife parks always sound simple and exciting but, in reality this is far from the truth and has far more negative implications," the group said.

Penang's tourism industry could be hit should there be any allegation of illegal tiger trading, as with other such parks in Asia, MyCat added.

The Harbin Siberian Tiger Park and the Guilin Tiger Park in China have been implicated in the killing and sale of their animals.

"There have been cases where a country's tourism-driven income has been severely affected because of the response to an ill-thought of action," the group said.

Malaysia has more than 40 zoos and according to MyCat monitoring these for illegal wildlife trading was already a major task.

It said a number of zoos here have already been linked to the illegal wildlife trade and the Taiping Zoo in northern Perak state and the Saleng Zoo in southern Johor have been prosecuted for violations.

The group also pointed out that feeding and housing the tigers would be financially draining as food alone could cost up to 30,000 ringgit (8,230 dollars) per animal per year.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told AFP his government would study the matter further before making a decision.

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