A notorious yet popular tourist attraction trading on the exploitation of wildlife over two decades has announced that it will shut down.
In announcing its demise, the Sriracha Tiger Zoo did not cite any second thoughts over its 24 years of mistreating countless animals, but rather the lack of foreign tourists who are its main source of revenue.
The zoo, located southeast of the capital, said it would move its roughly 5,000 animals including tigers, crocodiles, horses, deer and camels to another unspecified property owned by the Sriracha Tiger Zoo Co. Ltd.
A draw for its animal shows and tiger selfies, the zoo previously announced it would close earlier this year.
After this story was published, London-based World Animal Protection reached out to say it would be good news when the animals had suitable new homes.
“For over a decade we’ve been documenting the conditions at Sriracha Zoo, and they have consistently subjected thousands of wild animals to the cruelest of captive conditions, all in the name of entertainment,” campaigns head Gilbert Sape said in a statement. “Sriracha Zoo has experimented with highly questionable practices, such as separating tiger cubs from their mothers and raising them with mother pigs.”
Located in the seaside resort town of Sriracha, the zoo said it had taken many measures to stay afloat, from offering free entry to Thai visitors and selling street food to putting up a herd of elephants for sale.
The zoo was opened 1997 by Maitri Temsiripong, a swine and croc breeder. Its practices have come under scrutiny for cruelty, such as exploiting animals to perform in a circus, providing poor living conditions for its tigers and even shipping 100 big cats to a Chinese zoo in 2004. Still, the zoo is heavily promoted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, which operates under the tourism ministry.
Tiger tourism is a persistent source of complaints about animal exploitation. In 2016, the most infamous venue, Kanchanaburi province’s so-called Tiger Temple, was raided and had most of its animals seized. Despite that, new venues continued to open and flourish prior to the pandemic.