Tiger and bear rescue shed light on the miseries of wildlife tourism in Thailand

Published on: Friday March 11, 2022

Long before the pandemic closed international borders to foreign tourists in Thailand, the future of Phuket Zoo was quite undecided. Animal rights activists had raised eyebrows over the conditions at the facility and the drop in visitor numbers. At present, the zoo has closed permanently after experiencing two years of near-zero revenue. In the zoo, the majority of captive animals have been relocated to nearby animal parks. However, 11 tigers and two bears from the zoo proved quite difficult to rehouse. For these wildlife sites, feeding and caring for these large mammals is prohibitively expensive and most of them struggle to feed their own animals following the loss of income due to the damaged tourism sector.

The owners of the zoo, anxious to find a solution, turned to the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), a non-profit animal rescue center. It is located in Phetchaburi, an eight-hour drive north of Phuket. Although in the past WFFT has campaigned against the practices at Phuket Zoo, the organization has decided to welcome all unhoused animals into its wildlife sanctuary. This will be the largest tiger rescue in Thailand’s history.

To quote Jan Schmidt-Burbach of World Animal Protection told Mongabay: “Commercial facilities that have wildlife based on visitor revenue are all in economic trouble and closing left and right. Those who really suffer from it are the animals [and] in many cases there is no place to go.

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Tags: wildlife tourism in Thailand

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