Monkey show and “wildlife conservation center”
More illegal wildlife possession, trade and exploitation on Koh Samui, Thailand
After several written and verbal complaints from people that visited the “Wildlife Conservation Centre” on Koh Samui, our founder Edwin Wiek visited the local monkey zoo, wildlife rescue centre, or wildlife conservation centre as they like to call themselves in various advertisements. This “zoo” turned out to be a hell for the poor animals living there, being kept in tiny cages, all on their own, while some are chained up all day and night. Most of the gibbons and monkeys are babies, while a few binturongs and leopard cats live in dirty cages, walking on chainlink covered with plywood. Some of the macaques are forced to perform tricks for the tourists who pay 200 to 300 baht per person to enter the zoo. Making a selfie with a macaque or gibbon will cost another 100-200 baht on top.
The complete zoo is about 50 by 50 meters small with about 70 animals in total. Most of the animals are primates, monkeys from South-America, macaques from Thailand and gibbons. All animals are kept solitary, which is absolutely not right for them, and all cages are tiny and half of the animals chained up most without water for the animals, some of them extremely dirty. All in all we believe the zoo should be shut down and all animals confiscated as a matter of urgency on the argument of animal welfare. But besides the fact that the keeping of these animals is way below the animal welfare standards there are some more facts hereunder.
When our team asked for information about the zoo they were told it is not a zoo, so it doesn’t have or need a zoo permit;
Not true, the zoo keeps a collection of animals with the sole purpose of commercial exploitation, charring tourists an entrance fee and paying extra for shows and photos with the animals. The zoo never had and still does not have a zoo permit while it clearly needs one.
There is a breeding permit in the zoo, issued by the Department of National Parks, how is this possible?;
The breeding permit is not issued for breeding all kind of wild animals, but only for the breeding of pig-tailed macaques, for the coconut picking. We have not seen any mature couples of any species in the zoo that could be able to breed, which raised suspicion that the many young animals were not bred in the zoo but came from elsewhere.
The livestock department declares the zoo is rabies-free, why is this document shown?;
The owners of the zoo try to make us believe the zoo is a legitimate business and tell visitors this is the permit for holding the Thai wildlife that are supposed to be protected by Thai law. The document is worthless as a “permit” it only states that the livestock department has given vaccines against rabies to the monkeys and gibbons at the zoo.
Where did the animals come from? Where they legally obtained by the zoo?;
Staff and owners of this zoo were at first not able to say where the animals came from and some told us the babies were “donated” or bought from private owners (read illegal wildlife trade), but later they said the animals were handed over by people who had ownership papers for these animals (document Sor.Por.1) and some of these “documents” were produced to us.
It is impossible to have Sor.Por1 documents of ownership for these many young animals, the reason is that all Sor.Por.1 documents were issued by the Department of National Parks in June,July and August 2003 only and never after that time, so any animal that was registered for ownership must be at least 13 years old by now. The owners of these animals had never ever registered any births of any babies to authorities either, which would have been impossible of course as most had registered only one each. Besides that the handover, sale or donating of animals with a Sor.Por.1 document to any other entity or person is illegal under Thai law.
This zoo on Koh Samui is not the only tourist trap where protected wildlife is exploited to entertain foreign tourists, where wildlife is kept without proper documents originating from the poaching and illegal trade. In many other of these zoos, monkey shows, elephant camps and “wildlife conservation enters” around the country we find cases like this. Some places keep a few individuals while some of these illegal zoos keep dozens of illegally obtained wild animals for commercial exploitation. The Wildlife Friends Foundation wants to see an end to these sub-standard and illegal zoos as soon as possible, and hereby calls on the authorities to close down all the zoos and rescue these animals from a hell on earth.
We are looking forward to the investigative report by “THAIPBS TV” who will air the issue on National TV of this “zoo” in a report on zoo standards and the laundering of illegal wildlife into the tourism industry. We expect that action soon after that will be taken by authorities.