While the rescue of a gorilla held in captivity above a Bangkok department store for three decades has been heralded in foreign media, the local activists who’ve campaigned for her release remain skeptical.
Sinjira Apaitan, who last year led an unsuccessful campaign for authorities to order the release of Bua Noi from the Pata Zoo, said yesterday the news seemed too good to be true.
“You can’t just move the gorilla overnight,” she said. “We’re now waiting for the authorities and the shopping mall to hold an official press conference.”
A report about the imminent release of the gorilla held captive since 1983 by Australian media Saturday claimed “Thai authorities now acknowledge that the high-rise zoo breaches a raft of guidelines and have ordered the gorilla and other large animals to be removed.”
It claimed the gorilla must be freed by July, however zoo owner Kanit Sermsirimongkol said no such regulations existed.
“There is no regulation how big the cage should be for a monkey, a snake or a bird. There is no rules yet,” Kanit said.
Last year Sinjira led 20 animal activists to hand in an online petition calling for Bua Noi’s release and the zoo’s closure to Nipon Chotibarn, director of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
Nipon decided to renew the zoo’s license, saying it took good care of the ape and moving it would be too costly.
Bua Noi has been the zoo’s highlight since 1983 and has never set foot outside the air-conditioned shopping mall since then.
The Asia for Animals Coalition said the zoo “… houses more than 200 species of animals, including a menagerie of pythons, turtles, flamingos, monkeys, leopards, tigers, bears, a gorilla, a Shetland pony, and the last surviving member of a group of a dozen penguins. Weekend performances force primates dressed in children’s clothes to lift weights, ride bicycles and do tricks with fire.”