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!

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