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Phuket Zoo in Thailand
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I have visited Phuket Zoo in Thailand before. It was about two years ago. I wasn't impressed then and I wasn't on this visit either.
I was in two minds about visiting at all as I was in the tail end of a fever and feeling a bit crotchety. In the end I decided to go. As long as my report was honest, which this is, then my health should not come into it.
The entrance fee was a hefty 500 Baht for adults and 300 Baht for children. I daresay that there is a special, much lower price for Thai nationals. The zoo was not busy during my visit but there was a steady flow of people. I reckon that the very minimum number of adult visitors they get in a day is 100 and probably double plus is a more realistic figure. So on the lowest they are taking would be 50,000 Baht each day. This is not money to be sneezed at in Thailand and impressions within the zoo did not reflect this. The zoo claims to cover 24 acres but I honestly doubt if it is even half that. It also claims a 100 species but I note that several mentioned on the sign at the entrance are no longer there. I noted also there appeared to be far less tigers than on my last visit. I wonder where they went?
The zoo was much as I remembered it. Impressive entrance, lovely gardens and nice (mainly) neat paths. To really stretch the nice things to say I should mention that most of the enclosures were clean.
Just about every cage and enclosure saying either 'Danger', 'Do not bang on cage' or 'Animal bites'. Only about a dozen cages in the whole zoo actually had a label on it saying what was inside. These were largely illegible and neither use nor ornament. The exception was the Aquarium where there were a number of good 'mind bite' signs of just the kind I like. Sadly most of these were unlit so you could not read them. In the main, those you could read did not refer to the occupants. So from an educational point of view the zoo was a complete non starter. This place prides itself with its Monkey Show, Crocodile Show and Elephant Show. Monkeys riding bicycles and elephants dancing does nothing for me. None of these are educational, it is just animal abuse by another name. I don't condemn the staff here because in all honesty they know no better.
Gate in Barrier Wide Open
It isn't safe. Definitely not. Sticking a few warning notices up is not the answer. Putting a double gauged strongly wired high barrier to protect people from touching three mean looking mature primates is one thing but leaving the gate in the barrier wide open makes it completely pointless. And whereas I know it is done in some places failing to have trap off facilities or even double doors on mature macaques is the height of stupidity. Even the tiger enclosures were not safe. There was virtually no supervision and with very little effort I could have let them out without anyone being any the wiser.
They have obviously not even heard of the word. There was no evidence to suggest that any form of enrichment has ever taken place. Even perching was at a minimum. So sad because it could so easily be put right. A swing or similar could transform a primates life.
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I cannot really say here but as far as I am aware Phuket Zoo is not a member of any zoo Breeding Programmes, nor do I think it should be without a radical change in management and structure. I am also unaware of Phuket zoo making any sort of contribution to in-situ conservation.
With the possible exception of the Smooth Otter, Mouse Deer, Fishing Cat and the Hornbills there are no species of extra special note. There are an overabundance of Peafowl and Siamese Crocodiles. Most of the animals appeared to be in fair physical condition apart from the scrawny deer which were dotted about.
Directly opposite the zoo entrance there is a huge newly built mansion. Now I don't know because no-one told me but I don't think I would be wrong at guessing that the zoo owner lived there. If it is the case then that is where all the money is going because it certainly is not going into the zoo. I am not against anyone making a buck or two but if animals suffer as a result then I can only condemn.
Phuket Zoo is a Bad Zoo. It is not a good zoo and any reputable collection deals with it at their peril. Management cannot argue that they do not have the money.