Tourists pose with tiger cubs at controversial tiger zoo now facing closure
Footage shows tourists posing with tiger cubs at a controversial zoo that is now facing closure after the Covid-19 economic downturn in Thailand.
The Sriracha Tiger Zoo – where a ‘grisly haul’ of 40 dead cubs among others was found in a 2019 raid – announced that it is now selling 5,000 animals under their care before they close down in Chonburi province.
It had become known for allegedly sedating tiger cubs so that holidaymakers could pose with them for selfies and forcing the big cats to perform in a circus-style ring.
Among the animals for sale is a herd of 11 trained young and adult elephants with their caretakers included in the deal.
However, the 24-year-old zoo has had difficulties trading the animals as some of them are listed as protected species under Thai laws, including the elephants which are the country’s national animal.
A zoo spokesman said: ‘Support us and help us find a new home for our animals.
‘Sriracha Tiger Zoo is looking for elephant buyers so we can heal our wounds from Covid-19.
‘It’s necessary for us to sell our animals even though we love them so much. Despite our love and sorrow, we have to be apart.’
Before the announcement, the zoo did other income-generating projects such as selling street food and free entrance promotions but visitors remained scarce due to pandemic restrictions.
Aside from the elephants, the zoo which became well-known for its Bengal tigers, was looking to find a new home for its deer, camels, dwarf horses, and crocodiles.
Thailand has recorded 1,434,237 Covid-19 cases and 14,953 deaths as of September 15. Large parts of the country are still under a 9pm curfew with restrictions on which businesses can open.
Ministers hope to fully re-open the country to vaccinated travellers in October but economists have warned that it could be another five years before the country’s tourism industry returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Two years ago tourism made up an estimated 21 per cent of Thailand’s GDP, generating 1.8 trillion baht in revenue. However, the country’s National Economic and Social Development Council predicted that it could be another five years before similar numbers are seen.
Analysts said that between now and 2026, around seven million workers will continue to be affected by the economic harm from the Covid-19 pandemic.