Hard times have forced the famous Tiger Zoo in Sriracha to offer their 11 elephants for sale, after closing April 30 due to Covid-19. The zoo in Chon Buri province put an ad on its website listing the 11 elephants and their caretakers available for purchase. The site is asking for 3 million baht per elephant and offers bulk discounts for anyone willing to take in the entire herd of 11.
The Sriracha Tiger Zoo has been a popular tourist attraction in Thailand for over 30 years. About 270 tigers reside at the zoo, the majority of them have been retired of old age and don’t take part in any exhibition or activities in the zoo. With the severe drop in tourism due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the zoo was forced to close its doors at the end of last month.
So far, no buyers have contacted the Tiger Zoo, which may be just as well, as the sale of elephants is heavily regulated. Elephants are a protected and endangered species, on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora list. Thai law forbids the sale of elephants with only a few exceptions, according to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
Before you start cashing in your retirement savings to get yourself an enormous new pet, know that elephants may only be sold to another zoo, or for research, study, or breeding. Any sale in violation of these restrictions would prompt the DNP to force the Tiger Zoo to surrender the elephants to their care.
The regulations and the financial distress creates a pickle for the Sriracha Tiger Zoo, where they can’t afford to keep them and may not be able to sell them. The DNP recognises this quandary and expressed concern over what will happen to the elephants, but also stated they don’t have any policy in place to deal with this situation.
Covid-19 has devastated elephant activities in Thailand, from shows and rides that are often maligned to sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres. Tourism funds the high cost of feeding and caring for the giant creatures, and without international travellers, many elephant owners and trainers have abandoned them, attempted to put the elephants up for sale, or made the long trek to their homelands.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World
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