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  1. #1
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    Bangkok's rooftop zoo "appalling conditions"

    Plight of animals at Bangkok's rooftop zoo above department store
    Ben Doherty in Bangkok
    guardian.co.uk, Friday 10 September 2010

    Grim conditions in Bangkok department store zoo | World news | guardian.co.uk

    Animal welfare groups face a battle to close Pata zoo, where more than 200 species live out their days in appalling conditions

    The ground floor of the Pata department store has cheap clothing: the polyester slacks for 200 baht (£4.20), the polo shirts for half that. Higher up is the electronics department: the fake Rolexes and the cheap TVs. On the seventh floor is the gorilla.

    There are no trees in "King Kong's" 15 x 10 metres concrete enclosure, just a tyre and a few ropes hanging from the low ceiling. He moves little, spending long hours sitting at the front of his pen, gripping the iron bars.

    Ten metres away, a lone penguin stands in an air-conditioned pen, next to a pool of water, which is smaller than a bath and nowhere near deep enough for him to swim in. A few years ago, there were a dozen penguins, but only this one survives.

    Bangkok's Pata zoo sits atop the department store that shares its name, on a busy road in the northern suburbs of Bangkok. Crammed into cages and pens across the sixth and seventh floor of the ageing building are more than 200 species: a menagerie of pythons, turtles, flamingos, monkeys, leopards, tigers, bears, and even a Shetland pony. From the rooftop enclosures, you can see the advertising billboards and office blocks next door, while traffic roars past below.

    The director of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, Edwin Wiek, wants the zoo closed: "Basically, it is an animal prison on top of a shopping mall. The space is too small, the animals have very little room, there is very little sunlight, the enclosures are dirty, they smell bad, and people are coming past all day, getting far too close to the animals, which makes the animals extremely stressed. In 200 steps you can see 50 different species. Most people know that this is not an acceptable way to keep animals. It is a hell for animals."

    Thailand, like much of south-east Asia, faces myriad animal welfare issues: cockfighting remains a popular, hardly-underground spectator sport, elephants are still put to work on the traffic-choked streets of Bangkok, and the city remains a hub for smuggling animals across the world. Last month a sedated tiger cub was discovered in a bag at Suvarnabhumi airport disguised amongst soft animal toys.

    But Pata zoo reflects the fundamental problem: a lack of legislation regarding animal welfare. The zoo is breaking no laws. The animals were all obtained legally, and the zoo's licence was recently extended.

    All the same, staff don't like the animals being filmed or photographed in their cages. The Guardian visited twice to obtain its footage, and both times we were encouraged to move on if we stayed too long at one enclosure.

    "There are no rules or regulations to say how much space each animal needs," said the director, Kanit Sermsirimongkol. "It's not about space, it's about the way in which you treat the animals. The space that we provide to the animals is enough for them to freely move around, and to exercise. The zoo has a vet to take care of the animals. And we have many species of animals successfully breeding, which shows the animals are healthy and well-managed."

    Kanit says the zoo is a respite for people looking to escape the "concrete jungle" of Bangkok and to "reconnect with nature". He says the animals are especially popular with children.

    Earlier this year, Thailand's ministry of natural resources and environment declared its support in principle for a universal declaration on animal welfare, and a draft act on the prevention of cruelty to animals has been written, but in Thailand's current unstable political climate, the legislation is unlikely to be passed.

    "There is an animal welfare law in Thailand, but it is very simple, very ineffective, and is rarely enforced," Wiek said. "It says only that if you torture an animal, you can be fined. And the maximum is 1,000 baht (£20). That's not a tool, that's a joke."

    Pata zoo has been in Bangkok for nearly 30 years, but attitudes towards animal welfare are changing. Business is slow.

    During the three hours the Guardian spent there, there were barely 20 visitors. The lunchtime "performance", featuring primates who lift weights, ride bicycles, and fight with knives, drew fewer than a dozen people to an auditorium built for several hundred.

    The building is tired and run down, latches are broken on empty cages, abandoned enclosures are filthy. A handful of jackals, held in a tiny concrete room, are barely visible through the grimy viewing window. Across a narrow corridor from King Kong, two orangutans share a sparse enclosure, concreted on all sides apartfrom the iron bars at the front. Here, too, there are no trees or any greenery. The orangutans have learned to beg for food, reaching their long arms through the bars of their cage, clapping their hands as they shriek at visitors.

    Several years ago there was a second indoor zoo in Bangkok, but all the animals died when the building caught fire, said Roger Lohanan, chairman of Thailand's animal guardian association. "Pata is an old building. If the zoo caught fire, those animals would all die. There is no way to get them out."

    His organisation has successfully lobbied other shopping centres and hotels to abandon plans for indoor zoos, but campaigning to close the zoo at Pata has foundered on a lack of legal support. "We are fighting a losing battle in animal welfare in Thailand, because anything that can make money is acceptable. When we explain the problems to people, they agree with us, but they go on doing it because the law is on their side."

  2. #2
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    Anyone been to this place?

    I'm not a fan of zoos, but am accompanying a school trip to the main Bangkok zoo on Tuesday, don't know what to expect there.

    Only zoo I've visited in Thailand has been the one in Phuket which I'd rate as sub-standard in terms of the animal living areas and their treatment - monkeys performing 'tricks' out of fear, my lasting memory of the monkey show was an Aussie bloke standing up and yelling 'leave the little bugger alone' at one of the 'trainers' who persisted in use of the stick.

  3. #3
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    I lived right behind Pata for a couple of years. I had no idea about the zoo on the roof. The department store was a load of shit, it was only good for making a short cut to the main road.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by genghis61 View Post
    Anyone been to this place?

    I'm not a fan of zoos, but am accompanying a school trip to the main Bangkok zoo on Tuesday, don't know what to expect there.
    .
    Dusit Zoo is small and by international standards pretty sub standard. You can walk around it in less that one hour and they double charge for foreigners. After 5 though it's free and after 4 on Sundays. One Hippo has been there since 1967 in a pool the size of a large tub.

  5. #5
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    Sadly, the Thais are too Chinese in their make-up and have zero interest in the welfare of animals or their little piece of the environment.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by genghis61
    in Thailand, because anything that can make money is acceptable.
    only when it's shared with the right folks

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazy dog View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by genghis61 View Post
    Anyone been to this place?

    I'm not a fan of zoos, but am accompanying a school trip to the main Bangkok zoo on Tuesday, don't know what to expect there.
    .
    Dusit Zoo is small and by international standards pretty sub standard. You can walk around it in less that one hour and they double charge for foreigners. After 5 though it's free and after 4 on Sundays. One Hippo has been there since 1967 in a pool the size of a large tub.
    We're scheduled for 2hrs tomorrow, I'll let you know. I checked on pricing but it's been pre-paid by the school and I'm going as 'staff' so no issue there. Well, i hope not or I'll be outside sulking in the carpark.

    There is a 'travelling crocodile show' here next week, from posters appears to be three men in red kung fu suits with three small (under 1.5m) crocs. 20 baht to see them tortured. I'll pass.

  8. #8
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    The restaurant by the boating lake is good and not that expensive, it also opens late, at least on Sundays. Have a look at the pics at the ww2 air raid shelter. One gives the info that when the japs landed the Thai army put up stiff resistance, the next one says the surrender was signed the next day! at least it did last time I looked. They are constructing a walk way around part of the zoo at the mo so things are a bit messy.

  9. #9
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    ^If i remember correctly, was soon as (within 2 hrs) the Japanese crossed the borders thailand joined the axis powers, making and invasion of thailand by japan unnecessary.

    They managed to get out of the war reasonably well, simply having to hand back annexed bits of burma, as the thai ambassador in the US, being thai, decided that his boss was being silly declaring war on the states, so he told the boss, the declaration of war had been handed in and left it in his safe. After the war the brits wanted thailand treated as a combatant, as thailand had declared war on them.... but the americans explained the facts of life to the brits and said no.

    Me thinks the zoo's history skills are as good as their animal husbandry.

  10. #10
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    BANGKOK, Thailand – A few staff members cast suspicious looks at me as my video camera rolled. One asked why I was filming.

    I wasn't in army-ruled Myanmar or communist North Korea. I was visiting a zoo – in Bangkok – and the employees were monitoring me closely.

    "One of our zookeepers even has a picture of the gorilla in his wallet, instead of his wife," the staff member said. "You see, we really love our animals."

    But it's a tough love out here at Pata Zoo, a concrete jungle on the top two floors of a department store on a busy road in Bangkok.

    Solitary penguin

    About 200 species – a gorilla, a penguin, bears, tigers, leopards, sheep, flamingos, pythons, and nocturnal animals – are crammed into cages and pens that are too small or otherwise inadequate for them. The two floors of the zoo are each about the size of a soccer field.

    The zoo's superstar, a 20-year-old female gorilla, lives in a 10x15-yard concrete pen. "Bua Noi," as she is called, sat gripping the iron bars of her dim cage, with only a tire, ropes, and TV playing slapstick comedy to keep her company on the day I visited.


    The Pata Zoo's star attraction, "Bua Noi" a 20-year-old gorilla, sits in her dimly lit cage.
    Warangkana Chomchuen / NBC News

    Nearby, two tigers restlessly walked in their cages, their spines and ribs visibly protruding, their hollow-looking faces seemingly all bone. A black jaguar jumped wildly up and down on the fence at the sight of approaching visitors two feet away. And one dazed Humboldt penguin, the lone survivor out of an original group of a dozen, stared blankly at a glass wall in its air-conditioned room.

    "No animals can stay healthy psychologically and physically in a building or in an air-conditioned room," said Edwin Wiek, director of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand. "A zoo in a building like Pata is hazardous to animals and humans. It should be a thing of the past."

    Animal-rights activists have been fighting to shut down the zoo for years, but it's a losing battle. The zoo is not illegal in Thailand. The animals were obtained legally and the zoo has a license.

    'Long life expectancy'

    There just is no real legislation in place to protect animal welfare.

    The zoo’s managers stand by their facility’s safety and size. "Our enclosures aren’t so small that the animals can't move," said Kanit Sermsrimongkol, Pata Zoo’s managing director. "Besides, our animals have long life expectancy and they reproduce. That’s an indicator of their good health."

    Public anger and controversy over the Pata Zoo erupts from time to time. But the zoo tends to play it down by inviting media and zoo authorities in for inspection. Eventually the publicity dies down, people forget about it, and the zoo's permit is renewed.

    Sophon Damnui, director of Thailand’s Zoological Park Organization, admits the vague laws governing zoos are problematic. The only existing laws relating to wildlife protection state a zoo must be "appropriate" when it comes to caring for captive animals.

    "The bill hasn't been amended to address the issue," Sophon said. "But Pata Zoo has a permit. It has zookeepers to tend to animals' basic needs and their animals don’t have a problem, so that's OK."

    Animal-rights activists are stymied by the lack of laws. "The law is never on our side," said Roger Lohanan, secretary of the Thai Animal Guardian Association. "We’ve tried every legal loophole, but there's nothing we can do."


    Some tourists take pictures outside the bear cage at Bangkok's Pata Zoo.
    Warangkana Chomchuen / NBC News

    His major concern is animal safety, especially in case of fire. Before Pata there was another zoo inside a building in Bangkok, but most of the animals were trapped and killed when a fire broke out a few years ago.

    "The animals can only wait to be rescued and certainly they will be the last thing on people's mind if something bad happens," Lohanan said.

    Cultural cruelty?

    The problems at Pata Zoo reflect a broader issue of rampant animal cruelty and abuse in Thailand. It isn't a rare sight in big cities to see men walking elephants on hot concrete streets or pet dogs performing tricks for hours in busy, bustling shopping areas – all in the effort to earn some petty cash.

    Weak law enforcement and punishment – a 1,000 Baht ($33) fine or one month in jail for animal abuse – exacerbates the problem.

    Appalling records of animal treatment in Thailand make people wonder what happened to this Buddhist country, where compassion for all living beings reigns first in Buddha's teaching.

    Animal-welfare campaigners call it cultural cruelty. Many Thais still view animals as one of their possessions, to treat as they see fit, and kindness and compassion usually don't go beyond food and shelter.

    "Some people say, 'I love my fighting cock, because it's a good fighter'. This is exactly the same mentality the zoo owner has," said Lohanan, referring to cockfighting's enduring popularity across Thailand. "They said they love their animals, but it's an ancient kind of love."

    The Thai Animal Guardian Association and other animal-rights groups are pushing for a more effective animal protection law. They drafted the bill and proposed it five years ago, but it's been buried deep under Thailand’s ongoing political mess.

    And zoos are still popular. The birth of a baby panda last year drove the country into a frenzy and spurred the idea of importing even more exotic animals to breed on Thai soil. While it wasn’t exactly crowded, about 70 adults and kids were visiting the Pata Zoo the day I was there.

    Animal-rights activists said they don't want to give up hope, but acknowledge that it will take a while for the draft bill to get attention and for the animal welfare mentality to kick in.

    "When the public is ready to come out and say, 'We don't want it,' then you can shut down Pata Zoo," Lohanan said. "Until then, there's nothing we can do."

    worldblog.msnbc.msn.com


    earlier thread here :

    http://teakdoor.com/thailand-and-asi...nspection.html (Bangkok's Pata Zoo passes inspection)



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mid View Post


    Some tourists take pictures outside the bear cage at Bangkok's Pata Zoo.
    Warangkana Chomchuen / NBC News
    In Thailand, it would not surprise me animal broke free and killed tourists. The girl in blue is doing the Thai victory sign....is she a tourist?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog View Post
    Sadly, the Thais are too Chinese in their make-up and have zero interest in the welfare of animals or their little piece of the environment.
    They all have dogs minus love and care.

  13. #13
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    what a sad pic



    Quote Originally Posted by Mid
    The zoo's superstar, a 20-year-old female gorilla, lives in a 10x15-yard concrete pen. "Bua Noi," as she is called, sat gripping the iron bars of her dim cage, with only a tire, ropes, and TV playing slapstick comedy to keep her company on the day I visited.
    even Viktor Bout wasn't subjected to this.
    Poor bloody gorilla watching Thai comedy all day . . . and that f-ing boing noise.

    It's articles like this, continued publicity, that will hopefully see these animals rehoused in a more suitable environment.
    For the ones on their own so long there would be problems with them being able to integrate with their own kind.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog View Post
    Sadly, the Thais are too Chinese in their make-up and have zero interest in the welfare of animals or their little piece of the environment.
    Singaporeans are mostly Chinese in their make up but Singapore has one of he best zoos in the world

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by genghis61 View Post





    even Viktor Bout wasn't subjected to this.
    I thought that was Viktor Bout.

  16. #16
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    Zoos aren't really Thailands strong point.

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