Tigers under a tight leash
By TAN SIN CHOW and WINNIE YEOH
THE steel cage at the former site of Bukit Jambul Hibiscus, Orchids and Reptile Farm in Penang where two Bengal tigers are kept has maximum security measures, farm director Michael Ooi said.
Hence, he said the public need not be afraid of tigers escaping from the cage.
“Even the state Wildlife Department which did an inspection a few days had given the thumbs up that the cage is extremely safe,” he said, when contacted.
The farm, which started operations in 1989, was closed down in June 2007 after Penang Development Corporation (PDC) took back the land.
He said following the closure, they were asked to set up a similar tourism product at the 2ha Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve.
The project, to be called Flora and Fauna Village, is a joint venture between them and the state Forestry Department.
He said they were supposed to move into the forest reserve sometime in May last year but due to several unforeseen circumstances, the project was delayed.
He said the tigers have been left at the site as they cannot be easily transferred from one place to another, adding that a worker fed and bathed the tigers once a day.
A security guard, Zakariah Shafee, 68, at the Desa Daya apartment, located opposite the farm, said that he occasionally heard the tigers roaring at night.
“They don’t roar every night and I think they do only because they’re hungry, he said.
Another guard, Lye Ahr Mee, 69, said that most residents from the area did not mind that the tigers were caged there.
“But you’ll never know what can happen. The bars might get loose or there might be unforeseen circumstances that could result in the tigers escaping,” he said.
A Chinese daily had also reported recently that residents staying nearby were worried as they had heard the tigers roaring occasionally.
When contacted, a state Forestry Department spokesman said repairs were currently being carried out at the forest reserve.
He said the delay was a result of heavy rain that washed down the slope, thus damaging the enclosure area of the tiger’s den in October last year.
“We started the repairs recently and everything is expected to be ready in three months,” he said.
A state Wildlife Department spokesman said the cage was in good condition, adding that the owner holds a special permit to keep the tiger at the site while waiting for relocation.
Ooi said the project at the forest reserve would house a wide variety of hibiscuses, orchids and tropical flowers. Besides the two tigers, an arapaima, albino cobra, two giant tortoises, snakes, lizards and spiders would be put on display.