Distressed gorilla rolls around a tiny cage where she’s been kept for 30 years as bored animals slump in their dirty enclosures at the ‘world’s saddest zoo’ in Bangkok
Shocking images and video footage has revealed one of the world’s saddest zoos, where animals are held captive on the highest floor of a shopping centre in Bangkok.
The disturbing video shows a distressed-looking gorilla rolling around his tiny enclosure, a big cat pacing up and down a small space and sheep crammed into a fenced area much too small for them.
Other heartbreaking pictures show a fed-up Hornbill who should be flying above Africa, a ferret curled up in the corner of its cage not touching its food, and a white monkey who seems to be pleading for help.
Worse still, the zoo is in a dilapidated condition and in need of urgent repair.
The distressing footage and photographs were taken at Pata Zoo in Bangkok, Thailand by freelance journalist Julian King.
‘On the highest floor of a shopping mall these animals are held captive for over 30 years living in horrible conditions,’ he said.
‘Bua Noi (the gorilla) – meaning little lotus in Thai – has been living a nightmare since 1983. She is enclosed on the sixth floor and has never set foot outside since then.
‘Animal protection laws are practically non-existent in Thailand, and those that do exist are extremely vague, making them difficult to enforce.’
Bua Noi was captured from the wild when she was just a baby, and she’s lived in a barred cage by herself ever since.
While there had been previous efforts to rescue Bua Noi and transfer her to a sanctuary, she’s sadly still there.
This wouldn’t be the first time Pata Zoo has received negative press for its mistreatment of animals, so it may come as a surprise that the zoo remains open.
‘In the wild, orangutans are generally solitary animals and spend very little time on the ground. They even build nests and sleep high up in the canopy. So to see them acting this way is completely unnatural behavior.
‘It was a very dark, dirty and depressing place to visit and felt a little postapocalyptic.
‘Orangutans share over 96 percent DNA with us and possess many human emotions — they seemed incredibly bored and depressed, as did the chimp. One of the enclosures was so dirty you could barely make out there was a chimpanzee inside.
‘The gorilla just sat there tearing up pieces of paper and drinking from a plastic bottle.
‘There are some bars and chains for the apes to swing on and the gorilla had a tire to play in,’ Gekoski added,
‘Other than that, there is very little enrichment and stimulation for them. This is one of the biggest problems with captivity — it takes an animal’s choices away.’
Only a handful of tourists passed through during his visit, but their behaviour was not being monitored by the staff.
‘I even saw one man pulling and playing with an orangutan’s lip,’ Gekoski said.
A petition to free all the animals in the zoo has more than 95,000 signatures – but it was started nearly five years ago.
Meanwhile, the animals remain in extremely cramped conditions, with no access to sunlight. They are also subjected to intense heat and exhaust fumes from the busy streets below.
In 2014, Thailand even introduced an animal welfare law that technically protects animals against this kind of facility – but it isn’t always enforced.
Around the same time, Pata Zoo’s license was renewed despite huge criticism and efforts to shut it down.
Its director Kanit Sermsirimongkol told Bangkok Magazine in 2015 that he does not sympathise with activists.
‘We call them lok-suay (blind optimists); people whose single-mindedness thinks that animals should not be kept in enclosures,’ he said.
‘The gorilla looks sad because it is how she looks. They saw the picture of her on the internet and assume she’s depressed.
‘Our rooftop zoo is not a problem. Before opening, we only selected animals that were suitable for a rooftop zoo; we consulted zoologists and veterinarians about which species we could possibly raise under these conditions.
‘They have been treated well. The enclosures are kept clean by our staff.’
Despite the ongoing challenges of helping animals in Thailand, animal welfare advocates are still hoping that Pata Zoo will eventually close down.
‘The Pata Zoo is a disgrace for all legitimate zoos in Thailand,’ Edwin Wiek, director and founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, previously said in an interview.
‘The animal welfare and safety at Pata Zoo are way below even Thailand’s standards. Historically, the zoo was founded by a notorious wildlife trader and this facility does not fit in the world of 2018.
‘We can’t wait for authorities to finally close it down.’