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Myanmar: ‘Save Our Zoo’ Campaign

Categories: East Asia, Myanmar (Burma), Citizen Media, Economics & Business, Environment

The government of Myanmar wants to relocate the Yangon Zoological Gardens [1] which has been a city landmark since 1906. In fact, about 450 animals were already transferred to another zoo in Nay Pyi Taw, the country's new capital. Minister Soe Thein argued [2] that the zoo is already a health threat for residents in the city. He added that the zoo can be transferred to Hlaw Kar National Wildlife Park [3] which is outside of Yangon.

Netizens have launched an online campaign to block the relocation. Mahar Kyaung, who posted the “Save Our Zoo” photo on facebook, reminded [4] authorities that zoos in other countries are also located in city centers:

The Saigon Zoo in Vietnam which opened in 1864 is at the center of the town. Similarly, the Ragunan Zoo which also opened in 1864 is located in Jakarta city. Manila Zoo which opened in 1959 in the Philippines is also in the city proper.

The real big purpose (I heard) is that they are planning to build hotels in the location of the Yangon Zoo.[…]

Photo - Ma Har Kyaung Facebook Page [5]

Photo – Ma Har Kyaung Facebook Page

He then cited his reasons for opposing the proposal:

Since current Zoological Garden is a historical zoo;
Since it was founded with funding raised from the public;
Since it will be a waste of country's budget as it will need to renovate the Hlaw Kar Park;
Since it will be inconvenient to go out of town for friends and relatives visiting Yangon after their visit to Shwedagon Pagoda (Author's Note: Yangon Zoo is very close to Shwedagon Pagoda and those from small towns and villages who visit Yangon usually go to the zoo after Shwedagon Pagoda);
Since I knew the idea of the ex-general (Minister Soe Thein) who wants to make profit by relocating the zoo.

If they were to continue to relocate the zoo to Hlaw Kar, we should send our aunts visiting Yangon to U Soe Thein's home if they want to visit a zoo.

Many netizens seemed to agree with him. Naing Lin Ngwe expressed [6][my] his worry:

Another activism movement to halt a project is on its way again.

Yan Naung Soe sarcastically wrote [7][my]:

I pray to Buddha and may other gods praise. May they (ministers) have no idea to relocate the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Ko Gyi Kyaw asks [7][my] if residents are complaining against the zoo:

To say it (zoo) is unhealthy, are the residents around there protesting against it? You (Minister) were not even born when the zoo was founded.

Zin Mar Lwin shared [8][my] her disappointment:

They often think that it is a development to relocate something to elsewhere. Frustrated.

Yar Zar Di Yar Zar urged [9][my] authorities to stop making illegal profit:

Enough with all the demolitions happening in the country now. (You) should already be pleased with the wealth already hoarded.

A number of Facebook users who had seen the post asked the question “Again?”, “What do they want this time?” etc.

Since the zoo is currently being managed by business tycoon Tay Za [10] of Htoo Trading, the company said [11] it would follow instructions from authorities on the issue of relocation.