Surprising news declaring that gorilla “Bua Noi” had been “rescued” along with hundreds of other animals from a rooftop zoo turned out to be too good to be true.
The notorious Pata Zoo yesterday refuted reports it would shut down and release Bua Noi, who has been living in a cage atop a Pinklao area shopping mall for three decades.
Local activists who petitioned officials last year to close the department store zoo had been skeptical about news reports during the weekend from Australian news media claiming the zoo would be closed by July.
“Thai authorities order release of gorilla after 20 years caged in Bangkok mall zoo,” asserted a headline from the Australian Broadcasting Corp., which seemed to spawn a series of similar accounts in other media.
The rumors that Pata Zoo would close appear due to one inaccurate headline. The actual ABC story, which only seemed to rehash the issue without any new information, had a more sober and vague lead claiming a campaign to free the animals “is gaining momentum” before going on to recap everything already known to those who’ve followed the issue.
The story’s author, Samantha Hawley, said wildlife officials have indeed issued an order that would free Bua Noi.
“Thailand’s national parks and wildlife department has ordered large animals including the Gorilla be moved by mid year,” Hawley wrote in reply to an inquiry. “It will be up to the department to ensure it enforces its own ruling.”
An online petition calling for all the animals to be released from the zoo was presented to authorities last year and has now received nearly 50,000 signatures.
Last year activist Sinjira Apaitan led 20 animal activists to hand in the petition, which called 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.