A zoo infamous for exploiting animals and keeping them in dire conditions has filed for bankruptcy and could soon close, leading animal rights campaigners to declare victory.
Billed as Thailand’s first – and the world’s largest – crocodile farm, the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo is heading toward liquidation after 71 years, as just announced in the Royal Gazette, though a zoo representative today denied it is closing.
Word of the tourism-dependent zoo’s financial collapse was hailed as a victory Friday morning by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.
“The Samutprakan Zoo was hell on Earth for animals, but thanks to PETA, WFFT, and online pressure by concerned people around the world, their prolonged suffering will finally come to an end,” said PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker.
PETA may take credit, but the zoo’s management had for many years shrugged off complaints about the sorry state of its facility and allegations of animal abuse. No tourists to sell tickets to for the past year due to the pandemic is a more likely factor.
A woman answering calls at the zoo today insisted the venue remains open on the weekends. Refusing to give her name, she denied any knowledge of the zoo’s bankruptcy.
A PETA Asia spokeswoman said her group believes it’s a done deal – unless someone had stepped in to intervene.
“Court proceedings were on the 26th, and we understand that they are liquidating. We called the zoo this morning, too, and there has been some confusion amongst the zoo staff as to whether or not they are closing for good. We’re unclear if they’re getting some kind of bailout,” Nirali Shah said in an email.
The Samutprakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo, located in the southwest metro area’s Samut Prakan province, is notorious not only for keeping more than 60,000 crocodiles it of various sizes it breeds, but the neglect and exploitation suffered by its many other animals, from chimpanzees to elephants. When it opened in 1950, it was Thailand’s first crocodile farm.
It draws tourists with a variety of animal shows, especially its live crocodile shows in which performers place their heads inside the animals’ jaws (yes, accidents happened). Malnourished and psychologically distressed animals were forced to perform tricks and entertain visitors such as the stream of Chinese tourists which helped keep it afloat.
In 2019, a National Geographic and PETA expose led a large Chinese travel firm to say it would stop working with the zoo.
Several years ago, a Bangkok woman killed herself by jumping into a croc pen.
Despite regular calls for its closure, spurred by images of animals with open wounds living in filthy habitats, the zoo’s owners said they took excellent care of them.
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