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As Phuket Zoo closes, WFFT launches largest tiger rescue in Thailand

As Phuket Zoo closes, WFFT launches largest tiger rescue in Thailand

PHUKET: Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) is carrying out the largest tiger rescue in Thailand’s history as the renowned wildlife animal welfare and rescue organisation prepares to take custody of 11 tigers and two bears handed over by Phuket Zoo.

By The Phuket News

Wednesday 22 December 2021, 04:27PM

WFFT founder and director Edwin Wiek confirmed the news today (Dec 22).

“I am driving back to Phetchaburi today to ensure that the two areas for the animals are ready. I have two areas set up for them, nine rai and 10 rai, with ponds and trees and space for them to roam,” Mr Wiek told The Phuket News this afternoon.

Mr Wiek explained that he and Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, founder of the Elephant Nature Park, discussed the handover of the animals with the Phuket Zoo owners today.

The zoo has been hard hit by the financial crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the facility without tourist visitors for nearly two years.

Despite previous encounters between WFFT and Phuket Zoo over the conditions many of the animals were kept in at the zoo, the parties set aside any animosity in order to determine the safe future for the animals, Mr Wiek noted.

“They were genuinely very concerned about the animals. They said they had refused offers for the animals’ skins and bones,” he said.

“As WFFT has the facilities and expertise to take care of large carnivores and currently houses more than 30 other bears, it was concluded that WFFT could provide the best life-long care for these animals which require urgent rehoming,” Mr Wiek explained. 

The rescue and rehoming of 11 tigers to a sanctuary will be the biggest tiger rescue in Thailand’s history. However, due to the financial impact of COVID-219, WFFT must first raise the funds required to rescue these 13 animals. As such WFFT is asking for financial support to undertake this historic rescue, he noted.

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“This rescue will be no small feat for WFFT. The financial resources required to rescue and transport 13 large animals from Phuket to WFFT alone will be significant,” Mr Wiek said.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have received more calls than ever from entertainment venues who cannot afford to feed their animals anymore. We try to help as many as we can. The fact is, though, that without financial support, we cannot help more.

“We are urging our friends in Phuket, in Thailand and around the world to please help with what will be a huge rescue, not only for WFFT, but for tigers in Thailand,” he said.

WFFT is a registered foundation in Thailand. 

“In Thailand, like in every country in the world, animals are abused and exploited for profit and human gratification. There are many examples of animal exploitation within the tourist industry, for example, photo prop animals, animals performing in degrading shows, and elephant camps. Furthermore, there is still a thriving illegal trade in wild animals for pets and medicine,” the organisation explains on its website.

The top three major goals of the organisation are:

  • To rescue and rehabilitate captive wild animals and provide high-quality care and a safe environment for them to live for the rest of their lives, in a setting as close to nature as possible.
  • To campaign against all forms of animal abuse and exploitation in Thailand, work towards ending the illegal pet trade and discourage people from keeping all wild animals as pets. WFFT actively seeks to combat the illegal wildlife trade and to rescue animals from poor conditions or exploitation from human entertainment.
  • To provide veterinary assistance to any sick or injured animal; wild or domestic.

To learn more about WFFT, visit the official website here:

Comment on this story

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Christy Sweet | 31 December 2021 - 17:56:43

And..Tigers still trapped in horrid conditions tiny boxes with crap food and no stimulation year after year after year   ENOUGH 

christysweet | 29 December 2021 - 09:47:11

Please donate to WFFT as the tigers are still languishing in their inadequate cages for years now. Years and years and years 

christysweet | 29 December 2021 - 09:45:51

Only  a fool would believe that cowards hide their insults behind made up names to  protect from scary people on a news publication.   

Sir Burr | 27 December 2021 - 08:33:50

Only a fool uses their real name on the internet. Too many weirdos and stalkers. Haven't you learned that yet? Nothing to do with bravery, or cowardlyness. It's just common sense.

Taswegian | 27 December 2021 - 06:44:42

When I can eventually get back to Phuket I would love to have a beer with Christysweet, Kurt, Captain Jack, maybe even lelecuneo! Keep the comments coming, really enjoyable!

christysweet | 26 December 2021 - 13:05:00

 Nope.   Won't be changing  anything but I will comment 'someone here' shouldn't be so  cowardly re real identity but still seek branding with a fake name across many forums. 

Sir Burr | 26 December 2021 - 12:13:05

Yet, you still choose to live here, even though you would like Thailand to be a carbon copy of where you come from.
You can't change the world, but, you can change your attitude.

christysweet | 26 December 2021 - 10:05:37

Lots of insults, slurs and false innuendo from people who use fake names and suck badly at debating.Why not tell us how great Thai police are, or the of the honest work ethic within the culture, eh?

christysweet | 26 December 2021 - 10:01:34

 I  have opinions about the country I live in and the people who inhabit it which are then expressed on a forum dedicated to the subject. Yep. 

Fascinated | 25 December 2021 - 21:17:56

Yet once again Sweetie you shoot yourself in the foot with your comment. Pot, kettle, black. Carry on Clickbait.

Sir Burr | 25 December 2021 - 17:30:08

Yes, you save it all up for the country you live in and the citizens that inhabit it.

christysweet | 24 December 2021 - 21:32:58

Thank you. I can certainly agree my opinions are valuable contributions to this fine publication - mostly  because I can make a point without  belittling others. 

DeKaaskopp | 24 December 2021 - 16:14:53

As the PN obviously protects Ms.Sweet from any criticism and therefore agrees with her "dissing" of Thailand, why not allow her even more space on your fine comment section? This site has become over the years a cesspool for the hater and white supremacists. 

christysweet | 24 December 2021 - 13:24:26

Please donate to WFFT These tigers are still in their tiny concrete and metal cages  at the zoo and  will remain until enough funds are raised to pay for transport.  

Timothy | 24 December 2021 - 12:02:59

I checked the WFFT website. Very slick and in your face with donate, donate, donate...Soi Dog in Phuket has an annual income of over 16 million US. Total expenditure in 2020 was listed at 12.8 mill US. Lots of money flowing. My dog passed recently. Took a lot of food and other items to donate to Soi Dog. They told me they were closed and wouldn't even let me see dogs for adoption. Rude staff. 

christysweet | 23 December 2021 - 10:13:59

I've always suspected many commentators on this  site either cannot comprehend what they read, or do not read past a headline.

christysweet | 23 December 2021 - 10:11:02

 I'd almost forgotten how horrid it is for animals  in Thailand. Yes, that supplants  the trash everywhere for top of the list of Why I Diss Thai Culture.   

christysweet | 23 December 2021 - 10:05:19

It's not gone, first the money has to be raised, so repost WFFT donate page  around. A report  from 3 years ago- half the 147 tigers taken from the Temple around 2015 have died, they were inbred and suffered diseases from it.   

JohnC | 23 December 2021 - 08:51:08

Great news that this disgusting blot on Phuket's tourism industry is finally gone. It was a pitiful example of what greedy people will do to animals to make money, their only care.  Next to go should be the dolphin show. The aquarium is also pretty dodgy. One visit there was enough to turn my stomach. STOP ABUSING ANIMALS FOR GREED.

Fascinated | 22 December 2021 - 22:44:10

Great news that this abomination has finally closed. The 'treatment' of their animals was disgraceful. One wonders how much the animals have suffered whilst it has been closed- care was not in their mantra.


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