The owner and managing director of Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo yesterday fired back at allegations of animal neglect at the facility, reassuring a television audience that the “boney” animals in the viral photos are in good health, and that plans to file lawsuits against anyone who “slanders” the oft-criticized zoo.
His TV appearance came in the wake of mounting criticism following the release of photos of animals so thin you can see their ribs protruding — which went viral after being shared by Facebook news page “We love Samutprakarn v2” on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking to Amarin TV, Uthane Youngprapakorn, yesterday insisted that the horse in the viral photo, which netizens describe “pitifully frail,” is simply thin due to its being 15 year old, which he said is the equivalent of 80 for humans. (Coco Fact Check: A 15-year-old horse is roughly equivalent to 48 in human years, according to multiple online sources.)
What’s more, the horse is retired from the zoo’s shows and kept in the back of the farm, where it’s not intended to be seen by the public, he continued.
It’s his explanation of the thin elephant where things get truly charming, though.
Uthane claims that the male elephant has to be skinnier because he is a show animal and must perform difficult tasks, like walking on a tightrope.
The fatter he gets, the harder and more dangerous these tricks will be, he claimed.
“We always control their diet strictly … this is a show elephant. If he gets too fat, he will overheat, which will make him to become hard control and increase the chances of an accident,” said Uthane.
That’s right. An elephant, forced to live in captivity, needs to be kept thin, so he’ll be easier to control while being forced to do dangerous tricks. We’re not even going to guess at the training methods necessary to “teach” an elephant to walk on a tightrope.
While this argument (sadly) appeared to have local reporters more or less convinced, it will be likely met with more skepticism internationally, given that circuses worldwide — most notably the US-based Ringling Bros. Circus — have dropped their elephant acts in recent years amid mounting criticism.
What’s more, the kingdom’s own elephant tourism industry has increasingly been linked to abuse and torture in recent years.
International condemnation notwithstanding, the establishment’s director stands by his story, adding that qualified veterinarians from the Department of Livestock routinely perform inspections of the animals, with the last check-up coming just last Tuesday, per Workpoint.
We’ve reached out to the Department of Livestock for comment, and will update this story when we get a response.
Meanwhile, Uthane said he plans to assign lawyers to track down the people responsible for the social media drama, and plans to file a lawsuit against them for damaging the zoo’s reputation.
He suspects they could be angry ex-employees or family members who have had conflicts with him. That, or they could be one of the countless people who have posted shocking stories about the zoo on TripAdvisor dating back to at least 2014.
Thai zoo criticized after photos of shockingly thin animals go viral (PHOTOS)
Shows, selfies, and shaming: Experts weigh in on elephant tourism in Thailand
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