Will Thai zoo crowd eat Kenya wildlife?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2005:
BANGKOK, NAIROBI–A long-controversial sale of 135 wild
animals from Kenya to the Chiang Mai Night Safari zoo in Thailand on
November 10 appeared to be almost a done deal.
Kenya president Mwai Kibaki and Thai prime minister Thaskin
Shinawatra ceremonially signed the agreement at the State House in
The transaction is to include both black and white rhinos,
elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, servals, hippos,
and at least 14 hooved species.
But the deal was originally to have included more than 300
animals, as described in July 2005. It was scaled back after Youth
for Conservation rallied international opposition to the animal sale,
over a variety of humane, tactical, precedental, and conservation
Already claiming 726 animals of 103 species, the Chiang Mai
Night Safari opened for promotional tours by invited guests on
November 16. The public opening is to be on January 1, 2006.
Youth for Conservation founder Josphat Ngonyo pledged to
continue efforts to stop the transfer of the Kenyan animals. The
seemingly lost cause gained momentum after Chiang Mai Night Safari
director Plodprasop Suraswadi disclosed plans for the park to include
a buffet restaurant serving tiger, lion, elephant, and giraffe
Three of the four species that Plodprasop Suraswadi said
would be eaten are native to Kenya, and would apparently be bred
from the Kenyan stock.
Elephants are also native to Thailand–and are a symbol of
both the Buddhist religion and the Thai nation, which is 95%
Animal advocates in both Kenya and Thailand were appalled.
“The idea will set the country’s image back a century,”
warned Wildlife Fund Thailand secretary Surapol Duangkae, “because
nowadays zoos around the world aim to educate, and to conserve
wildlife, campaigning to stop the killing of animals.”
“The zoo should be a place for study and conservation, not
killing. Promoting the eating of wild animals will confuse adults
and children about what’s right and what’s wrong,” added Wildlife
Conservation Society representative Petch Manopavitr.
Formerly the Thai fisheries minister, and later the wildlife
minister, Plodprasop Suraswadi lost both positions amid scandals. A
Thai senate panel in late 2004 officially found reason to believe
that he illegally issued permits allowing the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo to
sell 100 tigers to China. The panel concluded that the tiger sale
was a commercial transaction, not a legitimate attempt to conserve