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PETA calls on Thai officials to ban photos with exotic animals due to Covid-19

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Screenshot via Tiger Kingdom Facebook

After reports that some exotic cats and primates in captivity have tested positive for Covid-19, animal rights activists are calling on Thailand’s public health minister to ban all photo opportunities with the exotic animals to avoid potential coronavirus outbreaks either from human to animal, or from animal to human.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known as PETA, wrote a letter to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, urging him to ban the exotic animal photos. They say the photo opportunities are still operating in Thailand and are “undermining efforts to control the pandemic.”

The Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo, Bangkok’s Safari World and the well-known Tiger Kingdom, which has locations in Chiang Mai and Phuket, are allowing visitors to come in close contact and take photos with wild animals like tiger, orangutans and monkeys, according to PETA’s senior vice president Jason Baker.

“Places like these have numerous guests every day, and it would take only one infected person to start another coronavirus disaster.”

In the letter, Baker says the Covid-19 transmissions between captive animals and humans have been documented in other parts of the world, like a zoo in Spain where some captive tigers were infected by asymptomatic employees. He warns Thailand’s health minister that if big cats or primates catch the virus, it could lead to a new variant.

“If they catch the virus, it can mutate and another new strain might be unleashed on the human population.”

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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