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Save Milo: Online petition for orangutan at Phuket Zoo sparks probe

PHUKET: An online petition that gained more than 5,000 signatures in less than two weeks has highlighted the plight of 13-year-old orangutan Milo, housed at Phuket Zoo. Meanwhile, wildlife officials are investigating whether the zoo even has the legal right to keep Milo behind bars.

animals, tourism, environment, natural-resources, crime,

The Phuket News

Thursday 18 February 2016, 07:21PM

The #SaveMilo campaign, listed on, saw signatures skyrocket last week as the campaign gained international momentum, while as recently as Monday (Feb 15), a tourist visiting Phuket Zoo posted a photo of himself posing with Milo on his Facebook page.

Yet the campaign at this stage is aimed at only improving Milo’s health, and her living conditions, as regular visitors are concerned that she is unhealthy and depressed.

Key campaigner Vicki Kiely told The Phuket News, “I first visited her (Milo) years ago, but went back about five months ago, when I saw where she lived and how grossly overweight she was.

“She sleeps in a pitch black concrete cell under the steps of where the monkey show is and she gets limited hours to daylight… Her teeth are bad and you can see she is desperately depressed. She folds her arms in boredom and disgust at the tourists.”

Ms Kiely has attempted to bring Milo’s condition to the zoo management, but to no avail.

“I email the zoo frequently asking may I work with her to improve her conditions and in turn I hoped I could improve the conditions of all the animals in there. She is the priority now, however, for me, as she is in the worst state.

“Ideally I would love if I could sit down and talk with the zoo owners, perhaps getting them to retire Milo. We have a sanctuary that will take her immediately in Indonesia.”

In the email repeatedly sent to Phuket Zoo Manager, Surapong Chanthaweewong, Ms Kiely also explained expert advice would be available to assist the zoo in improving Milo’s state and offered help to build an improved enclosure.

Repeated attempts by The Phuket News have failed to elicit any formal response from the zoo. Reporters were even turned away from the front gate when attempting to present simple questions directed to Mr Surapong, who has not replied to any emails, messages or phone calls made.

Yet Piyawat Sukon, who as Chief of the Khao Phra Thaew Non-Hunting Area Office in Thalang is responsible for the welfare of wildlife animals in Phuket and neighbouring provinces, said he had no knowledge of any orangutan in Phuket.

“Since learning of this, I have checked with our regional head office in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, and they have no records of any orangutans legally registered to be kept at Phuket Zoo,” he added.

“In order for anyone to legally keep an orangutan in Phuket, they must first be issued a permit from the 5th Area office of the Department of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

“From our initial investigation and after discussing this issue with them, Phuket Zoo seems suspicious and we are continuing our investigation.

“We are also involving the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division, as orangutans are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),” Mr Piyawat added.

Wildlife officer Songchai Tongboonyang told The Phuket News that he already had inspected Phuket Zoo just earlier this month.

“But that was to investigate complaints about the tigers there. I had no idea there was an orangutan at the zoo, too. I thought all the orangutans in Phuket had already been shipped back to Indonesia,” he said.

“Regardless, my report on that investigation has already been filed with Mr Piyawat,” he said.



The Phuket News


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Joe12 | 21 February 2016 - 09:53:52

Christy...yep, I read it, but I can't love it as you suggest because it doesnt make any sense.

The Phuket News

Christy K Sweet | 20 February 2016 - 20:30:31

Joe12, Read IJustLeftThai...'s last comment on the Russian ear slicing story. You'll love it!!

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Joe12 | 20 February 2016 - 17:17:19

Richard..I know him too, but your oversimplistic view of an individual is disturbing and is a view that I would not subscribe. They are just wild accusations that you pluck from your ass. It is also defamatory.

I also find it difficult to reconcile your original views of the place to that which you now state that you actually love it there. Bizzare way to give a steady wake up call. Get involved if you want to effect change.

Clearly there is a problem at the Zoo that needs to addressed and rectified in some way. Invective triades does nothing. Like me, people just put such comments in the idiot category. Factual, reasoned, intelligent comment would be good.

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deebeee | 20 February 2016 - 12:47:03

To EdwinWiek ... PLEASE make sure the person who has Milo KNOWS THEY WILL NOT BE PUNISHED on returning her.  That she needs to be in a sanctuary, but no arrest, no fines if she is returned safe and sound.  If this person fears punishment, who knows what he will do to Milo.  I think this is very very important to communicate to him.

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deebeee | 20 February 2016 - 12:43:41

I think since Milo is now "missing" ... there MUST be an OFFER OF AMNESTY, no punishment for the person who has kept her.  Otherwise who knows what he will do to her.  Her life is at stake.  Time to be smart.  PLEASE this person needs to be encouraged to surrender Milo and not kill her out of fear of prosecution.

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Joe12 | 20 February 2016 - 12:22:49

Christy... I read them and respond to them in the interests of balance and how ill-informed, derogatory and defamatory his statements are. I read them too because I can. Like Richard it appears you have idea of the motives of the Zoo Manager nor are they reported...only the one sided comments of one. If you bother to read Richard's comments , the whole tenor of his comments is his view of the Thai culture and how he views Thailand from a Eurocentric viewpoint...a bit like you really. So if you bother to read and properly consider my comments, if he is so upset about what is happening around him he should leave. Pretty much common sense really.

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Christy K Sweet | 20 February 2016 - 08:40:45

Joe12, Using your logic, please stop reading Richard Vickers' comments if you don't like them. And the "go home..." argument is a sure sign you have no defense of  what is shockingly appalling treatment of this animal. Do you really think the manager's motive is altruistic? He "found" a gibbon in the woods and has kept her in squalor for years because he's a nice guy? Now, apparently he's dumped her right back  like garbage because there was to be a legal inquiry. Please tell me how you can support that?

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Richard Vickers | 19 February 2016 - 23:49:18

Aw Come'on Joey...trying to stir people into action.  And the owner...I do know him...and he doesn't give a shit about anything except the mighty baht.  As soon as he felt the heat, he dumped poor Milo like an old prostitute.  And for the record, I love it here and I'm living a great life...just need to give a steady wake-up call.

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Kurt | 19 February 2016 - 19:14:15

I guess the Phuket Governor also now is worried about the Phuket Face, as everything is so illegal, cruel and Phuket mafia practicing about this animal, and the whole world reads about the way things happen.
Of course many laws involved, many departmenst involved, even the department which should know the animal was kept there solitary many years, and just blundly say they didn't know.
Why are Phuket officials always lying, mister Governor?

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Joe12 | 19 February 2016 - 18:40:58

Geez Richard. Such invective! Why are you there? Just move if the place is not to your liking. You dont even know the Zoo Manager; his motives let alone the facts, yet you run off at the mouth about him. Get a life man. 

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