JAKARTA (AFP) — Orangutans in public and private Indonesian zoos are being abused to the point where they are eating their own vomit and drinking their own urine, according to conservationists.
The non-governmental Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) said zookeepers were keeping the endangered apes malnourished so they would be eager to take food from visitors.
"The zoo managements have abandoned the principles of animal welfare," which is to keep animals free of pain, hunger and stress, COP captivity researcher Luki Wardhani told a press conference.
"We documented several stress symptoms and abnormal behavior. They bump their own bodies, vomit and eat it again, urinate and drink their own urine, lick their own nipples and sit without expression."
A COP study of five zoos across Java island found that some of the apes were being denied proper nourishment so they would eat anything tourists tossed into their cages.
"Public feeding should be stopped. The visitors often feed the orangutans unsuitable food and the zoos fail to monitor this," COP captivity program manager Seto Hari Wibowo said.
Too often the orangutans are kept in cages instead of larger enclosures which help reduce their stress levels, the group said.
There are an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, 80 percent of which live in Indonesia and 20 percent in Malaysia, according to The Nature Conservancy.
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