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PRESS RELEASE – Pandemic threatens sanctuary for rescued wildlife

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The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, or WFFT, home to more than 800 rescued animals, had planned to celebrate its 20th anniversary on 1 May. Instead, we may be shutting many gates for the last time.


Like so much of Thailand, the Covid-19 crisis and closure of the borders has hit the rescue centre hard, with WFFT losing more than 70% of its income for the past year. This income derives from overseas volunteers who pay for room and board, day visitors and lodge guests who bring their families for a learning experience and the soothing hilly landscape of Phetchaburi. WFFT prides itself on providing a home in an environment that is as close to a natural habitat as possible for wildlife and other animals who have been abused or are no longer wanted as pets, like Chico and Maggie, the resident orangutans.



WFFT was blessed with countless donations over the past year that helped sustain the monthly expenses. Several large grants from organizations, businesses and private citizens helped improve or build desperately needed enclosures. But the toll of the pandemic has finally consumed all gifts. We have endured monthly losses since March 2020, and WFFT has only enough funds remaining for one month of operations.


With the financial reserves approaching depletion, voluntarily handing over the wildlife animals now looms as a potential solution to reduce expenses. But we know this is not a viable solution because the Department of National Parks does not have any facility that could manage this many animals. Nor in this crisis time can it likely afford their upkeep.



Twenty years ago we constructed a few primate enclosures, a small kitchen and four bedrooms. We never thought then that our foundation would grow to the size it is today and to have an international reputation as a model rescue centre. Our commitment to rescuing and caring for animals deepened as the years flew by. That commitment remains, but our hearts are breaking as the funding disappears.



The longer the borders remain closed due to the pandemic, the dimmer grows our optimism that returning tourism will rescue WFFT as the public knows it now. Without tourism, the rescue centre is dependent on donations and fundraising. But without sufficient funding and with the emerging court battle, WFFT is now forced to consider unacceptable solutions.


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