Struggling Thai zoos sell animals, beg for donations

An 11-year-old girl plays keyboard for the animals in May at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chonburi province. Photo: Khao Kheow Open Zoo / Facebook
An 11-year-old girl plays keyboard for the animals in May at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chonburi province. Photo: Khao Kheow Open Zoo / Facebook

Not only humans suffering from the pandemic, but the animals incarcerated in its zoos as well. 

Citing the lack of visitors, some Thai zoos are selling their animals for money while others ask for donations to feed them. 

Southeast of the capital, the Sriracha Tiger Zoo has announced that it wants to sell a herd of 11 elephants – female calves and adults – raising thorny questions under wildlife protection laws.

“It’s necessary for us to sell them even though we love them so much,” the zoo wrote on social media. 

Given that elephants are protected animals under the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, they cannot be sold to anyone who do not own an elephant breeding permit.

Meanwhile, several zoos nationwide have announced that they are open to donations to feed the animals and provide for their “welfare.”

Auttaporn Srihaeran, director of the national zoological organization, said Monday that zoo visits have declined from 4.2 million in 2019 to 3 million in 2020. From January through April of this year, only 1.5 million visitors have shown up.

Autthaporn rejected criticism that zoos, many of which are state operated, would turn to the public to take care of their animals, saying they have been well provided for by the government, which has provided sufficient funding of THB112 million for more than 10,700 animals at six zoos. 

There are 2,800 animals at the Chiang Mai Zoo, 2,196 at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, 2,080 at Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo, 1,400 at Khon Kaen Zoo, 1,100 at Songkhla Zoo and 816 at Ubon Ratchathani Zoo.

“Each animal species has different budget allocations. Carnivores will be more expensive. For example, a tiger at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo needs an average 1,800  baht per month while an elephant needs 2,500 baht per month.”

Autthaporn said the donation channel was set up only to “engage” people with the zoos and improve the welfare of the animals in case the COVID-19 situation gets worse. 

Not only zoos are impacted by the pandemic. Stray animal organizations countrywide say they need help and support as thousands of pets such as cats and dogs have been abandoned, and some animal cafes shut down abruptly without taking responsibility for their animals.


Overwhelmed by dumped pets, Chiang Mai foundation pleads for help

Subscribe to the WTF is Up in Southeast Asia + Hong Kong podcast to get our take on the top trending news and pop culture from the region every Thursday!

Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on

Inside Topgolf Thailand: Bangkok’s newest, biggest, and coolest sports and entertainment venue is way more than just golf