Painted in two colors, supporters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, stripped down in Bangkok yesterday to protest the ongoing confinement of animals crammed into a run-down zoo atop a shopping mall.
PETA Asia organized protests yesterday at the Pata Zoo, an infamous blight to those concerned about animal welfare on the sixth and seventh floors of a department store of the same name in west Bangkok. They singled out the zoo’s owner who for years has resisted calls to close the zoo and defended it as humane.
“Kanit Sermsirimongkol, Pata Zoo’s owner, needs to wake up and realize that there’s nothing entertaining about seeing animals suffering in decrepit conditions behind bars,” PETA’s Jason Baker said in a statement from the organization.
“If he cared more about animals than pride and profit, he’d allow them to be transferred to sanctuaries, something that PETA has offered multiple times to help with.”
Pata Zoo is the Guantanamo Bay of Bangkok’s callous animal captivity – no amount of effort seems able to close it.
It has housed more than 200 species including pythons, turtles, flamingos, monkeys, leopards, tigers, bears, a Shetland pony, and a dozen penguins, who died one by one.
But the face of its inhumanity has long been a gorilla named Bua Noi who’s been forced to live confined in a concrete enclosure there since becoming its star attraction in 1988, three years before legislation was introduced that would have made her importation illegal.
For every day since, Bua Noi has been caged in a 800-square meter space with her other wildlife friends in the nearby cages. Officials have cautioned that her life of captivity makes her unprepared for a return to the wild, and she would likely need to be cared for at a shelter.
Five years ago, animal welfare advocates led by activist Sinjira Apaitan nearly succeeded in convincing officials not to renew Pata’s license to operate the zoo. There was hope Bua Noi would finally be able to be under the sky, but then nothing happened. The license was renewed.
Zoo owner Kanit argued the gorilla was better off in the air-conditioned mall and has repeatedly fought efforts from animal activists to free the gorilla.