British Spotlight on Thailand’s Wild Animal Tourism British publication ‘The Sun’ recently published information on what it describes as “Thailand’s zoo horrors” with graphic photographs of emancipated animals shackled in cages being forced to perform for tourists in “sheer cruelty that passes for entertainment in Thailand.”
The April article describes “orangutans being forced to fight in boxing rings with gloves strapped to their hands; an elephant performs tricks on a stone stage and then locked up in hellish conditions.” Environmental photojournalist Aaron Gekoski claims to have witnessed the shows on a tour of the country’s zoos and is now campaigning for restrictions on the industry.
He comments that “the orangutans are forced into hideous pantomime routines. For some reason, people found it funny watching these beautiful, sentient, intelligent animals having their pants pulled down or pretending to fight each other.” “The orangutans are not doing it because they want to; they are doing it because they are forced to. One can only imagine how these animals were trained in order to perform like this.
“What I witnessed was shocking and incredibly distressing. It really was a wildlife house of horrors.” Bangkok’s Pata Zoo, Safari World and the Phuket Zoo were three examples used to comment on Thailand’s wildlife tourism industry with claims that more than half a million animals worldwide are subjected to horrific abuse in order to entertain.
The Safari World website illustrates wild animal tourism promotion; “Who could miss the world’s first and only orangutan boxing show starring the funniest and hairiest champions of the Olympics?” proclaims the website. British-born Geroski, a wildlife photographer of the year, now plans to return to Thailand to shoot a documentary exposing the alleged abuses and is crowd funding his next visit.
He says: “a long-term goal is to create a global platform so tourists can ‘raise the red flag’ on abusive operators by posting photos, videos and reviews – a little like Trip Advisor, but focused on Wildlife Tourism. Tourists are being urged to support this campaign by acknowledging that “change is possible when people vote with their feet and don’t visit these places.”