Connect with us

Thai Life

Keep it Green: Zoos save endangered species

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Continuing my analysis of the value of zoos to man and beast, another important argument in favor of zoos is that they support the principle of conservation.

Take an extreme example. There are about 2,300 tigers left in the whole of the Indian jungle, but in the state of Texas alone, there are some 2,000 tigers, all in zoos or wild life parks. As a simple matter of fact, I spotted at least five in Phuket Zoo, whereas the last free-range tiger on the island was killed some forty odd years ago.

Some species, on the verge of extinction, or extirpation, have been saved by conservation programs initiated by zoos. Classic examples include Chinese pandas and the orangutan, but other less heralded species have benefited from these initiatives.

Minnesota Zoo has a program called ‘Adopt a Park’, aimed at helping save the Javan rhino. However, it is estimated that only three per cent of global zoo resources are actually spent on conservation, and a significantly lower proportion on the far more crucial issue of habitat conservation. It is of little use ‘saving’ threatened species, if there is nowhere in the wild to return them to.

Moreover, animals bred in captivity create their own problems. One is in-breeding, a genetic weakness caused by limited populations, while another and more serious concern centers on their inability to survive in the wild. Most released creatures will die within weeks – from predation or hunger. There is also some limited evidence that ‘surplus’ zoo animals are sold to circuses – with their unenviable reputation for animal cruelty – and to unscrupulous businessmen who allow them to be shot for so-called sport. Big game hunting is obviously not dead.

Are most people aware of these issues?

The answer sadly is a resounding ‘No’. Zoos, however, can, and indubitably do, help in the business of research and education. Actually seeing animals in the flesh is truly awe-inspiring, as no amount of film footage can match the appearance – close up – of an Asian elephant or a Siamese tiger.

But there are downsides, some of which are in evidence at Phuket Zoo. Good signage with information that both young and old can read and absorb in order to discover more about the animals is essential.

In the bad old days, the signage used to be very poor, faded by sunlight and often unreadable. Now, it is better, but there is too little in the way of facts and figures.

Thailand’s education system has failed conservation badly. What do children know about Thailand’s unique pangolins or dugongs? Very little, if anything, about the Kingdom’s precious natural heritage is taught in schools, so there is a crying need for zoos to help bridge what is a yawning chasm of indifference and ignorance.

There is, moreover, still a preoccupation with the ‘tame’ animal show. Phuket Zoo advertises three different shows: four daily monkey shows, three elephant and three crocodile performances.
I dislike the entire notion of performing animals and especially the ‘training’ which precedes them, but I do concede that they are enjoyed by children.

However, no zoo can hope to match genuine encounters in the wild – watching a pod of orcas cavorting in the Pacific Ocean, or enjoying the majestic sight of giraffes, elephants, zebras, lions and gazelles roaming freely in Kruger National Park. Those are unforgettable moments, epiphanies in one’s life.

At least the guardians of Phuket Zoo, in creating an environment with fewer animals, more emphasis on native species and more ‘natural’ conditions, are moving in the right direction.

“Going to the zoo?” Why not…. you will learn plenty.

If you have gardening or environmental concerns, contact Dr Patrick Campbell at Many of his creative and academic publications can be found at his website: Green galoshes WordPress.

— Patrick Campbell


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand9 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Phuket resort land encroachment case; OnlyFans arrest calls for reform| Sep 27

Thailand10 hours ago

Monday Covid Update: 10,288 new cases; provincial totals

Guides10 hours ago

Local resturants you can’t miss when travelling to Ayutthaya

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Thailand reduces quarantine to 7 days for fully vaccinated arrivals from October

World12 hours ago

Australian official suggests borders may re-open by Christmas

Thailand12 hours ago

Gilligan’s Island, Farangs, Grammar and Onlyfans | Thaiger Bites | Ep. 26

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Guides12 hours ago

Travel hacks for a stress-free holiday in Thailand

Thailand12 hours ago

Consumer complaints hotline targets rip-off shopkeepers

Thailand12 hours ago

Phuket Car rental business says gang rented cars and then sold them off

Guides12 hours ago

A guide to Doi Inthanon National Park

Bangkok13 hours ago

Curfew shortened, Bangkok spas, gyms, cinemas can re-open from October

Tourism13 hours ago

TAT pushes for Indonesia, Malaysia to be added to approved list for Phuket sandbox

World13 hours ago

Powerful earthquake strikes near the Phillippines main island

Guides14 hours ago

Top business and investment opportunities in Thailand

Thailand14 hours ago

OnlyFans arrest sparks calls for reform of prostitution and pornography laws

Thailand2 weeks ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11