By Bianca M. Caraza, Global Animal

Among the animals rescued were tigers, lions, bears and even a single black panther. Photo Credit: Associated Press

(WILDLIFE) While zoos may not always make for the happiest animals, most can pledge that their charges are well cared for and, at the very least, healthy. One zoo in Malaysia cannot say the same. This Monday, around 80 Wildlife and National Parks Department officers stormed into the filthy, cramped private Saleng Zoo in Malaysia’s southern Johor state to rescue 60 abused animals. Among the rescued animals were assorted lions, tigers, bears, crocodiles, and even a single black panther.

One zookeeper refused to admit that the animals were abused, protesting that he cares for the tigers like his own children. Unfortunately, officials and animal rights activists confirmed otherwise. The cages were too small for most of the big cats, enough so that unkind tourists could poke at the animals with sticks or even fingers. Provided water went unchanged and the animal’s waste was left in the exhibits.

Photo Credit: Associated Press/Gene Puskar

Laws for wildlife conservation and animal rights were strengthened last year, allowing the officers to come to the many endangered animals’ rescue. The Saleng Zoo was said to have violated their permit by illegally purchasing an endangered tapir from locals and kept their legally obtained animals in conditions that horribly failed to meet zoo standards. Their permits will not be renewed by the Malaysian government, which promised to better protect zoo and circus animals from illegal trade and abuse.

The abused and rescued animals were transferred to nearby zoos in the state of Malacca where they will be treated with respect according to humane Malaysian law.