Reflection: TNKRI tak bisa menjamin kenyaman hidup manusia dan alamnya,  selain 
menciptakan bencana silih berganti.

Letter: Gorillas replace orangutans in Ragunan?
Tue, 12/30/2008 11:02 AM  |  Reader's Forum 

In late 2000, P. Schmutzer, an animal lover and long-time resident of 
Indonesia, bequeathed her life savings for the construction of a world-class 
center for primates in Jakarta. Willie Smits, to whom she had entrusted this 
mammoth task on her deathbed, accomplished her dream. 

The opening in 2002 of the greatest primate-center in the world, the Schmutzer 
Primate Center, located within the Rangunan Zoo compound, was indeed a 
significant event. 

Sadly, however, the original aim of the center catering to the poor was 
diminished, since entry into the Primate Center has consisted of a separate 
fee, that is prohibitively expensive for its original target group of visitors: 
poor Indonesian children. 

The center currently houses a variety of primates including chimpanzees, three 
African gorillas, gibbons, siamangs, lorises and a few fortunate Orangutans -- 
supposedly Indonesia's national treasure. 

Unbeknownst to most visitors, there are close to 50 other Orangutans living at 
Ragunan zoo that live in desperate, miserable conditions in tiny and dark 
cement cages. 

These Orangutans could not be accommodated in the Primate Center when it first 
opened, but were promised new enclosures. 

To this day, however, that promise has been unfulfilled by the zoo 

For more then 10 years, I have been waiting for the release of several eligible 
Orangutans back into the wild. Currently, they are waiting patiently in rotten 
dark cages (some of which were once built for bears and cats and were used for 
quarantine areas). 

Many times, full-grown Orangutans have tried to escape from these, and one even 
managed to lift a 5 x 2.5 meter piece of iron fence from the concrete walls -- 
so desperate was it to see sunlight. 

My hopes quickly turned to bitter tears when I learned that this would become a 
new Gorilla enclosure! How can Indonesia's beloved national treasures sit and 
rot while the zoo builds a beautiful enclosure for an African animal? 

I feel completely betrayed. Me and my beloved animals have been deceived for 

Who will care for Indonesia's Red-haired children if not the Indonesian people 
themselves? As a foreigner, I feel practically defeated after dedicating 40 
years of my life to these precious animals only to see them discarded like so 
much garbage in the nation's top zoo, in favor of Gorillas from another 

And to Howlett's, I say, what are you doing?? 

Senior curator
Ragunan Zoo, Jakarta 

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