The death of a giraffe that had 40 pounds of plastic in its stomach—it ate trash routinely tossed into its pen—is just the latest crisis at Indonesia's biggest zoo. Two years back, a report said 25 of Surabaya Zoo's animals were dying monthly; that figure has been brought down to about 15. But the AP paints a shocking picture of continuing conditions there: Pelicans crowded so densely that they can't spread their wings without bumping into each other; a tiger that's covered in skin lesions; an apparently poisoned warthog.
"This is extremely tragic, but of course by no means surprising in Indonesia's zoos, given the appalling way they are managed on the whole," says an ex-zookeeper. Much of the problem stems from crowded conditions thanks to excessive breeding. Charging just $2 admission, the zoo can't afford to separate males and females. Meanwhile, internal conflicts among the zookeepers are thought to have led to the warthog's poisoning. It's time to either transfer animals out or privatize the place, says a director. (Read more zoo stories.)