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Phuket Zoo under fire over animal conditions

PHUKET: Officials have confirmed that Phuket Zoo is already under instructions to improve conditions for animals, most notably for apes and monkeys, housed there.

By The Phuket News

Tuesday 10 April 2018, 06:56PM

Phuket Zoo is again in the headlines for conditions for animals kept at the tourism attraction. Photo: Roma Neus / file

Phuket Zoo is again in the headlines for conditions for animals kept at the tourism attraction. Photo: Roma Neus / file

The news follows Brit photographer Aaron Gekoski reporting “horror” conditions at Safari World and Pata Zoo in Bangkok, as well as Phuket Zoo, through a report posted by UK newspaper The Sun online.

The report noted despairing conditions for animals and blasted Safari World in Bangkok for forcing orangutans to perform shows to entertain tourists, including having the apes perform a fake boxing match with female orangutans wearing skimpy bikinis and posing as “ring girls”. (See story here.)

Piyawat Sukon, Chief of the Khao Phra Thaew Non-Hunting Area Thaew Conservation Centre in Thalang, today (April 10) confirmed to The Phuket News that Phuket Zoo is already under orders to improve conditions for apes and monkeys kept there – if it wants to keep its license as a public zoo.

The Khao Phra Thaew Non-Hunting Area Office is the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) office responsible for the welfare of wildlife animals in Phuket and neighbouring provinces.

Mr Piyawat pointed out that Phuket Zoo was instructed to improve conditions fro animals during an inspection about three months ago by a committee of the Zoological Park Organization (ZPO), which is the ultimate authority in Thailand for issuing permits for venues to operate as public zoos.

Without the ZPO’s consent, zoo licences are not approved.

“I joined an inspection of Phuket Zoo conducted by a ZPO committee about three months ago. I saw that some parts of Phuket Zoo were kept very well, such as the elephant section, and were approved,” Mr Piyawat said.

However, he added, “But other areas, such as the sections where apes and monkeys are kept, were not good and needed to improved.”

Mr Piyawat explained that the inspection was “special” in that it was conducted in response to Phuket Zoo applying to renew its license to operate as a public zoo.

If the ape and monkey areas are not improved, the ZPO will be unlikely to renew Phuket Zoo’s license, he inferred.

Meanwhile, Paisal Sukhapunnapun of the Phuket Fisheries Office has confirmed that a crocodile pictured trapped in a tiny enclosure in the report by The Sun is not “Leypang”, the mixed-breed crocodile captured on Phuket’s west coast in August last year. (See story here.)

Mr Paisal was tasked with ensuring the care of “Leypang” and making sure that the croc’s new home is appropriate. After much debate, Leypang was handed over to Phuket Zoo to keep in good health. (See story here.)

“I can confirm that the crocodile in the photo is not Leypang. The enclosure at Phuket Zoo created especially for Leypang is much bigger than this,” Mr Paisal told The Phuket News today.

“Last month I went to check on Leypang. I can confirm that Leypang is healthy and eating well,” Mr Paisal said.

“Leypang is very much in the people’s interest, so Phuket Zoo can’t ignore making sure the shelter is appropriate,” he noted.

‘I will return to check in on Leypang from time to time to make sure he is being kept well, though right now I cannot confirm the exact date of my next visit,” Mr Paisal explained this afternoon.

Pichai Sakunsorn of Phuket Zoo Co Ltd today declined to comment in detail on the conditions animals at the zoo are kept in.

Instead, he insisted that Phuket Zoo is “in the process of improving conditions” for animals kept there.

However, Mr Pichai declined to provide any photos of the animals’ housing conditions at the zoo today.

“I don’t like this news, which affects Thailand, and especially Phuket as a tourism attraction, with Phuket Zoo being the focus,” Mr Pichai said.

“Whatever we do always results in negative feedback for us. Phuket Zoo is not supported by the government. We have to run it by ourselves and provide our own budget to fix and run the zoo. It needs time,” he said.

“I don’t want to go into this in more detail. Just talking about this topic is enough for today,” he added.

Phuket Zoo last made international headlines in the despairing case of “Milo the Orangutan”, dangerously overweight through poor diet and lack of exercise and kept in a cage under a stage at the zoo, being dumped into the wild in central Phuket amid fears that Milo had been illegally obtained. (See story here.)

Although finally taken into protective care after being held at Phuket Zoo for two years, Milo died just weeks later. (See story here.) 

Whether or not Milo was legally acquired was never made clear. However, officials were proud to announce that two other baby orangutans discovered at Phuket Zoo during an inspection resulting from the Milo fiasco were legally acquired – from Safari World in Bangkok. (See story here.)



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anon | 12 April 2018 - 14:37:53

Zoo's are no longer considered humane in many developed countries, and animal numbers and diversity kept in zoo's are dwindling. As a result, a zoo is not a sustainable business unless extreme measures taken to reduce costs directly affecting housing conditions and food. Time to reconsider the options before inhumane conditions bring more bad press to Thailand.

DeKaaskopp | 11 April 2018 - 14:31:18

As long as people-mostly foreign tourists-are willing to pay for this kind of entertainment,as long it will exist.Same with the dolphin show,jet-skis ,parasailing.

CaptainJack69 | 11 April 2018 - 12:03:30

To me you can look at this as 2 problems (2 violations). The problem is not limited to the way animals are kept but also the way they are forced to perform shows. Thailand is full of places like this and Phuket Zoo is no exception. So it's not just bad, it's even worse than that.

Kurt | 11 April 2018 - 07:07:39

Phuket Zoo is not a Zoo, it is a animal prison were animals suffer.
This Zoo has zero animal needs and care thinking. Just hold them and cash entrance fees to give foreign visitors a shocking experience.
Phuket Zoo owners should make a trip to Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, Scandinavia and, oh yes of course , Singapore!
Treat animals in captivity properly or not at all.

Nasa12 | 11 April 2018 - 06:34:21

I was there for the first time 14 years ago and then it was bad there, and I came back in 2017 and then it was so bad that we turned and took children out of Phuket Zoo. Don`t want children to see such animal cruelty on their worst. SHAM SHAM 2 Phuket Government.

BenPendejo | 10 April 2018 - 20:56:35

Despite this place coming under fire for unsatisfactory treatment of animals, the license continues to get renewed.  This pathetic excuse of a zoo should be closed, as the operators just don't seem to get it. Scrimping on animals quality of life to keep stuffing as much in their pockets as possible. Greedy heartless people shouldn't have zoos...shut it down!

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