Closure of ‘department store zoo’ to be mooted with officials

For three decades hundreds of animals have lived and died crammed into a small “zoo” atop a Bangkok department store.

Now a campaign to return a gorilla named “Bua Noi” to the wild has gotten the attention of government officials who’ve said they’ll consider pulling the Pata Zoo’s license.

“Bua Noi is still jailed in a cage for over 30 years without seeing the sun or trees,” activist Sinjira Apaitan said. “I had to stand up for Bua Noi and started the campaign. It’s time for Thais to take the matters seriously, not only to rescue Bua Noi but other wildlife in that rooftop prison.”

Twenty animal activists led by Sinjira, the woman who started the campaign on, will hand in 35,000 signatures to Director Nipon Chotibarn of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife tomorrow to call for the zoo’s closure.

Bua Noi, the gorilla has been the zoo’s highlight since 1983 has never set foot outside the air-conditioned shopping mall ever since.

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.”

Sinjira added the government’s agreement to meet tomorrow and discuss the issues is a significant development.

She claimed that despite the zoo’s license expiring last year, it has continued operating, Daily News reported.

Photos: Asia for Animals Coalition

Photos: Nai Bai Tan

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