Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Plight of Phuket's Working Animals

Photo from the Phuket Gazette

Pop star and self-self styled Sefie queen, Rihanna, caused a kerfuffle in Phuket recently when she took a photo of herself with a Slow Loris. The subsequent outcry made newspapers around the globe and highlighted the treatment of animals in Thailand's premier tourist destination.

‘Rihanna's Instagram selfie with slow loris leads to the arrest of two poachers in Thailand.’ (Daily Mail: 

‘Thai animal keepers arrested after allowing Rihanna to take selfie with 

protected animal.’ (NME: 

Rihanna's and her entourage had barely time to shake off their hangovers before local authorities swooped and scooped the Slow Loris perpetrators. 

'I have asked police to check the area in Patong beach after Rihanna posted her picture on Friday night with a slow loris,' said Local district chief Veera Kerdsirimongkol told AFP news agency.
Reactive policing like the above does little to save face for the police, who walk down Bangla Road every night and somehow miss the peddlers waving endangered animals in tourists' faces.
Local English language newspaper, The Phuket News, has throw their weight behind the issue, making a video highlighting the abuse. Watch it here: 

Phuket Zoo has also come under a lot of flack on Tripadvisor for its treatment of animals.

Here are its Tripadvisor ratings:

Visitor rating
Very good

One recent vistor to Phuket Zoo said the following about their visit to the zoo:

1 of 5 stars
Three words to describe this hell hole... concrete, chains and steel bars. Not to mention cruelty towards to animals from the keepers and the underfedanimals. All the animals have tiny, poor maintained cages, and the tiger is clearly drugged! When the monkeys and the tiger did not do as they were told, there were hit with a stick. It is simply a place exploiting animals to gain money, which by the conditions of the enclosures and the look of the animals, barely any of the funding reaches the animals. You can clearly see the elephants bones!!! i do not understand how this place is still running! Something needs to be done. Do NOT go and fund this cruelty!! not pleasant and the images stuck in my mind!

The company’s website says the following:

‘Visit Phuket Zoo during your stay and enjoy a wonderfully different type of zoo. Lush tropical gardens invite you to stroll around in the shade of giant trees across bridges onto islands containing all kinds of strange animals.’ 

Visitors have pictured this ‘wonderfully different type of zoo.’ Snapshots of chained monkeys and sullen gibbons show a different picture. Many also report seeing physical abuse from staff, drugged tigers and underfed animals.

Photos of Phuket Zoo, Phuket
This photo of Phuket Zoo is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Photos of Phuket Zoo, Phuket
This photo of Phuket Zoo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The title of a recent Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand paper states that ''Phuket still hell for protected wildlife." One one evening 23 protected animals were spotted in Patong, and this is set to continue. 

The shameful kickbacks and lack of ethical concern drive those with a conscience to despair, but for those lacking in moral fibre, it's business as usual.  


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