Thursday, 27 October 2011


Before arriving in Thailand I was well aware of the countries' poor animal welfare record. From the moment of arrival at the International Airport it was apparent that these "rumours" were in fact reality. Elephants walking the road adjacent to the airport "begging" for money were the first signs.

Reluctantly I decided to dig deeper and visit a zoo.

Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Pattaya, Thailand, boasts that it is the biggest zoo of its kind in the entire world—but is this really something to brag about? The zoo imprisons 200 tigers, while a staggering number of crocodiles languish in muddy, crowded pits nearby.
Crocodile, elephant, tiger shows and pig-racing events take place daily, with opportunities for tourists to have their photo taken with donkeys, deer, crocodiles, elephants, orangutans, and even sedated tigers. A recent inspection revealed conditions indicating that the zoo could be more accurately described as a horror show for animals.
Croc pit
During the elephant show, I watched tourists clap and laugh as a dozen elephants “danced” and twirled their trunks to music. The reason that elephants perform such tricks is because the bullhook (a stick with a metal hook on the end) is gouged into the animals’ sensitive skin if they rebel—an act that shouldn’t be applauded.
Ellie Bullhook
The elephants are also forced to prance around holding each other’s tails, walk on tight ropes, step over people, throw darts, hula hoop, and play basketball. Performing elephants endure the appalling “breaking” process, called  phajaan. When they are babies, they are dragged from their mothers, kicking and screaming, and then they are immobilized, beaten mercilessly, and gouged with nails for days at a time. These ritualized “training” sessions leave the elephants badly injured, bloodied, traumatized, or even dead.
Lone tigerMost tigers live out their life sentence in prison-like cages that are 2-meters-by-3-meters, leaving these majestic and powerful creatures without any space to move and run. They are forced to perform tricks and behave in ways that are unnatural to them, such as standing on their hind legs, perching on stools, balancing on bridges, and jumping through rings of fire. I watched as one tiger was chased by a trainer wielding a stick after he refused to jump through burning hoops.

Thailand also seems to have a booming exotic pet trade. A multitude of species including, loris, tigers, elephants, birds, snakes and many more are trapped, farmed, exploited and sold to illegal pet trades worldwide.

Animal slaughter for festival and everyday meat supply is inconsiderate of the animals sentiency not to mention highly unhygienic.

Thailand get your act together and implement a minimum standard of animal welfare legislation!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Animal Welfare roadtrip

It is with great joy that today I publicly announce my plan to base my worldly travels on research for this blog and other future endeavours relating to the welfare of all creatures, great & small.

Rather than walk the very beaten paths to popular holiday destinations and sit on beaches sipping cocktails or visiting theme parks, I have decided to dedicate my spare time to living a life less ordinary. To get off the beaten track and delve into the culture of a region. Research how and more importantly why even some of the most religious of cultures differentiate between the way they engage with their fellow man, and the way they engage with non-human living beings.

Im anticipating my journey to start in the coming weeks with a trip to south-east Asia (predominantly Thailand initially). I envisage that following trips will involve the Middle East region and Gulf States (the apparent "mothership" of the exotic animal trade) and onward to the sub-continent of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka etcetera. Ultimately I would love to one day make it to Africa also.

While in these countries I hope to investigate for myself the current standard of animal law (i.e. specific to the capture, trade and breeding legislation), animal welfare (i.e. street animals, animal health, food production slaughter standards & the treatment of "beasts of burden") & the quality of the countries zoos and sanctuaries.

I hope I can find balance in all regions between the negatives and positives (this is my holiday time and life savings after all!) and I hope you dear readers can join me on my journey and find motivation from my blog to join the fight for better standards for animals worldwide.

Watch this space......


Thursday, 14 July 2011

The exotic pet trade basics

The practice of importing and exporting wild animals as pets has been happening for decades, and often, popular entertainment determine which wild animals are the pets du jour. For example, exotic turtles grew in popularity in the 1980s "thanks" (for lack of a better word) to the popular television show, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Everything from the smallest reptile to a full-grown tiger can be sold to anyone for the right price. However, most owners don't realise the huge responsibility they are inheriting when they purchase exotic pets, and there's rarely a happy ending for the animal.
Just how does the exotic pet trade work, and what happens to these animals when the novelty wears off?

According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, following closely behind the profits of drugs and weapons on the black market. It's a  billion dollar business in the United States alone, with breeders and dealers selling animals over the Internet or in trade magazines. Countless animals are forced into the exotic pet trade every year for the purpose of becoming someone's pet or entertaining the masses in a circus or roadside zoo. 

While some wild pets have been bred in captivity, many exotic animals are plucked directly from their native habitats. The stress of being violently removed from their homes causes some animals to die before they ever reach a private residence. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that infant animals are the "most desirable" and earn dealers the largest profits. Poachers will often kill the protective mother first so that it's easier to capture the young.