While everybody should read the small-print before giving to any flag day, the curious case of the Singapore Zoo, a private corporation,
receiving funds from its “donation-collecting sidekick Wildlife Conservation Singapore Fund (WCSF) on Flag Day 26 Aug 2007“ wails for scrutiny.
Here’s a news report about the state of the Singapore Zoo’s finances in The New Paper, Wednesday, 12 Sep 2007
The Singapore Zoo and Night Safari have made millions of dollars in profits over the past three years, according to their financial records.
They also receive grants from the Government and sponsorship money from private corporations.
Adoptions and donations totalled $1.5 million for their parent company’s last financial year ended 31 Mar.
So why does parent company Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) still accept funds from a charity for research and the care of its animals?
Mr Joseph Lai, the originator of the Flag Day poser was also interviewed:
‘When donations are being canvassed in public places, people donate in faith that there is governance to ensure fair and equitable distribution of funds to legitimate causes with the most urgent needs.
‘Profit-making businesses should have no place within this public donation system to ask for any monetary help.’
The article further breaks down how the Zoo spins money:
It costs an adult $16.50 to visit the zoo and $22 to visit the Night Safari.
The 2006/07 year book of WRS, which runs SZG and Jurong Bird Park, Shows admissions as the biggest revenue earner – generating $33.4million, or 44 per cent of total revenue in financial year 2006/07.
Net profit after tax for that year was $17 million, while the year before was $14 million. In 2004/05, the first year that WRS made a profit, the figure was $12 million.
Yet, the fund said it gave $1.1million to the zoo last year. The money was donated by the public and by corporations for specific adoptions of animals and exhibits there.
It is interesting to note that even the fund’s flag day volunteers had doubts
… some canvassers, such as university student Zhang Yuzhuo, wondered about the need for the flag day.
Miss Zhang, 18, and her friends spent four hours at Tiong Bahru Plaza as part of a compulsory school-based community involvement programme.
She said in Mandarin: ‘It’s not like we were raising funds for disaster victims where the need is more obvious. I also felt that it was not necessary to give away such fancy stickers.’
Read the article for the interesting contrast on how the Singapore Zoo compares to other zoos that also charge admission and receive funds.
Aside from the news article, Mr Lai also charges in this blog entry that the “Zoo’s short not of money but of moral principles“, because “Self-help is more than helping self. Self-help helps others in truth.”
He also says
There is a whole lot of good things we can teach our kids.
Parents, teach your kids to take personal responsibility for nature conservation. Teach them not to depend on others to do it for them. Impress on them that each and everyone of us is a steward of our environment. And together we can all teach the super-rich Singapore Zoo not to depend on other people’s money for education, research and conservation. Tell the zoo put its own money where the mouth is and authenticate its own existence. Otherwise, whatever it preaches about nature conservation is just a farce – no genuine commitment. In any case, the zoo should never be seen as the status quo for animal conservation.
Last but not least, teach our children about true compassion. Self-help is helping others. My mum would have said it succinctly again, “one less Flag Day for the zoo, one more Flag Day for other non-profit organisations like the Children Society.”
I can’t agree more.