Three orangutans wearing T-shirts and jeans zip-lined from a platform at the back of the crowd, flying over our heads, before jumping down on stage. The primate performers then picked up musical instruments and played in a rock band as part of the “opening act.” This was the beginning of the orangutan boxing show at Bangkok’s Safari World.
I couldn’t help but imagine what kind of cruel physical punishment was used to teach these humiliating tricks. The boxing show was everything it claimed to be—totally horrific. The orangutans fought each other in the ring, while a female “bikini girl” danced and another held up the round number. Other orangutans, supposedly disappointed with the outcome of the match, threw pop cans into the ring from platforms above the stage.
Dubbed Thailand’s most popular animal and leisure park, Safari World in Bangkok is hell on Earth for orangutans, who are intelligent and social animals. These critically endangered animals are taken from their treetop homes in lush rainforests and brought to Bangkok’s concrete jungle to spend their days performing silly stunts under the threat of physical punishment.
Orangutans are not the only animals imprisoned at Safari World. Monkeys, crocodiles, and birds spend their days locked up too. The “safari park” is supposed to give tourists the feel of an African safari, only instead of open savannahs and free-roaming animals, they see animals locked behind chain-link fences and barbed wire. Visitors see the following when they go to the safari park:
- Several ostriches are almost bald, presumably because they have plucked out their own feathers as a result of the stress of captivity and the lack of mental stimulation.
- Three polar bears are forced to live in an enclosure about 40 square meters with a “cool water pool” reeking of chlorine. No matter how cold the water is, these conditions do nothing to replicate their natural arctic climate.
- Canadian black bears are not given proper shelter and can be seen panting, stressed by Thailand’s severe heat.
The bottom line: I’m sure most people would agree that Safari World is no place for any animal. Please do your part to fight against the use of animals in the entertainment industry by pledging never to patronize zoos or any other animal attraction. If you are travelling on a package tour to Thailand, be sure to mention to your tour operator that you will not attend or pay for animal entertainment schemes of any kind.
Posted by Ashley Fruno