Phuket Zoo—which has been described as hell on Earth for animals—is finally closing down because of financial concerns. The elephants will soon be retired to sanctuaries where they will get the care they always deserved. Two bears who have been held there will travel to their new sanctuary homes beginning next week. Eleven tigers will also be heading to a sanctuary, thanks to Wildlife Friends Foundation, and it will be the largest single placement of tigers at a sanctuary in Thailand’s history.
This great news comes after years of pressure from PETA and other animal organisations in Thailand. In 2011, PETA began an online petition calling for the zoo to improve the living conditions of the animals, which garnered thousands of signatures. PETA also pushed for concerned members of the public to leave truthful comments on the zoo’s social media and negative reviews on their Tripadvisor page. A major blow to the zoo came after PETA and its members urged numerous travel agencies to break ties with the zoo and remove it from their tour itineraries.
Shocking video footage captured by Moving Animals in 2019 exposed workers at Phuket Zoo beating elephants with bullhooks—metal rods with a sharp hook on one end—to force them to “dance” and perform other meaningless tricks for visitors.
Not long after the footage was released, one of the elephant’s back legs reportedly broke while he was doing a trick, and it was three days before he was taken to a veterinary hospital, where he died a week later.
Footage of a tiger who paced in circles on a small platform all day was also captured at the zoo. The heavy chain around his neck was so short that he could barely lift his head. Often, tigers are drugged and declawed so that tourists can take selfies with them without worrying about their safety.
Sadly, this is not uncommon in Asia, where more than 8,000 tigers are held in captivity and forced to pose for selfies. To end such cruelty, it’s vital that tourists never pose for a selfie with animals or visit facilities where animals are held captive.
Animals in Thailand Still Need Our Help
All over Asia, animals are being taken from their homes in nature and held captive, deprived of the opportunity to satisfy their fundamental needs. The closing of Phuket Zoo is a huge victory for animal welfare, but so much more still needs to be done to help captive animals in Thailand.
PETA has investigated numerous cases of animal cruelty in Thailand, including the appalling Pata Zoo, located on top of the Pata Pinklao Department Store in Bangkok, where hundreds of animals are kept in dreadful conditions, without basic enrichment. Bua Noi, a lonely gorilla, has been imprisoned there since the 1980s.