The forest management agency in the southern Vietnamese province of Kien Giang has refuted the reported mass deaths of animals at a newly opened zoo on Phu Quoc Island, in the first official comment from authorities on the topical issue.
Vinpearl Safari, the country’s first-ever safari park developed by Vietnam’s realty conglomerate Vingroup, has been accused by some online sources of causing the deaths of thousands of rare animals.
The sources, both foreign and domestic, also said that hundreds of the animal caretakers had fled the safari in a show of protest against the deaths, prompting the Kien Giang administration to task the forest management agency with investigating the issue.
Forest management officers examined the 500-hectare zoo on Tuesday, and eventually denied all such reports.
“Reports of animals dying en masse at Vinpearl Safari are all false,” Truong Thanh Hao, head of the agency, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in an exclusive interview later the same day.
Inspection results by the forest management agency show that the zoo operates normally and the animals are under proper management, according to the officer.
“Administratively speaking, Vinpearl Safari strictly follows all relevant regulations in transporting, importing and tending to wild animals, and these activities are under close watch by the local forest management agency,” Hao added.
They did admit that 130 long-tailed macaques had managed to escape from their cages, which are designed to host larger monkeys, according to the officer.
“There has been no such thing as a mass escape of thousands of animals as claimed by the online reports,” he underlined.
A few dozen animals had suffered health problems or died after failing to adapt to the new environment on Phu Quoc, he added.
Hao also said that the inspection has been properly carried out to ensure “accurate and subjective results,” which will be reported to the Kien Giang administration as well as the government, for “it is a hot issue.”
The forest management agency is scheduled to announce the detailed inspection result on Wednesday.
In the meantime, Kien Giang authorities have also officially refuted those reports regarding the Vinpearl Safari.
“According to the report of our inspection team, there is no mass death of thousands of animals as online sources have claimed,” said the province’s deputy chairman Mai Van Huynh.
“The number of animals that died due to environmental shock is within an acceptable range,” he added.
Vingroup turned the first sod on Vinpearl Safari in September 2015, with an estimated investment of VND3.3 trillion (US$147.32 million), and inaugurated the facility on Christmas 2015.
Phu Quoc Island is home to Vingroup’s flagship Vinpearl entertainment complex, and the safari park sits just in front of the resort around 30km from Duong Dong Town, the island’s center.
Vingroup has claimed that the ecosystem of the forest has remained almost untouched, and the animals have been imported from India and Africa via private jets.
Below are photos of some of the rare animals at Vinpearl Safari.