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Animal shows in Phuket. ‘Not in my back yard’!

Tim Newton

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OPINION by Tim Newton

Three years ago the issue came into sharp focus in Phuket when a Ukraine company established ‘Nemo’, the first dolphinarium in Phuket, right next door to the Chalong Zoo.

The dolphinarium drew a lot of kick-back from locals who took the NIMBY approach – Not In My Back Yard. They were applying their western values about the treatment of animals to the island they live on, and love. Despite their feelings on the matter local wildlife officials made the final decisions about the permits for the dolphinarium under a lot of pressure from some locals insistent that the new dolphin attraction was not appropriate. A LOT of pressure.

They decided to grant the relevant permits for the building and the hosting of dolphins who would live there and entertain paying customers.

The media, traditional and social, went fierce on the complex, before and after it opened. Social media was ripe with negative and dramatic commentary, disturbing photos and lots of ‘experts’ giving their opinions including Ric O’Barry, the subject of the 2009 Academy Award winning documentary ‘The Cove’.

Phuket Gazette (the old newspaper) took a negative stance against the establishment of the dolphinarium printing plenty of dolphinarium-unfriendly articles. The Editor at the time even hosted information evenings drumming up support against the dolphinarium. And good on him.

July 25, 2014

The fact that a dolphinarium is set to become one of Phuket’s newest tourist attractions comes as terrible news for the island’s reputation abroad, running counter to all of the positive changes we have witnessed in recent months…

August 28, 2014

Students from the Prince of Songkla University Phuket campus yesterday handed Governor Maitri Inthusut a petition with more than 400 signatures to protest the nearly-complete Nemo dolphinarium in Chalong…

June 30, 2015

Skal International Phuket & Southern Thailand’s executive committee, along with SKAL members, lashed out at the island’s unopened dolphinarium as news broke that the facility had leaped through yet another bureaucratic ring…

Sept 12, 2014

A direct connection between five wild caught dolphins bound for Phuket’s dolphinarium and the annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins at the Taiji cove in Japan has been confirmed, the Asia Director of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society told the Phuket Gazette by email today…

In the case of The Phuket News, they went further and declared they wouldn’t accept advertising from the new animal show. It ended up being a smart move after the Phuket Gazette newspaper (under former management) did eventually accept advertising from the dolphinarium after it opened. The community responded with a lot of negative social media for its change of heart. This letter from Skal Phuket & Southern Thailand…

Dear Phuket Gazette and John,

Today on the 5th of December 2015 the Island of Phuket and the imprisoned dolphins at the highly controversial dolphinarium in Chalong wake up to the sad news learning that the Phuket Gazette is now openly advertising the dolphin show in its latest printed issue and therefore obviously taking advertising money from the owners of the dolphinarium.

Not long ago, The Phuket Gazette and yourself were part of the efforts to prevent the dolphinarium from opening in the first place and supported activities against this animal cruelty.

The Phuket Gazette published an article where it pledged to support Skal Phuket in its efforts and John Magee was seen proudly accepting one of the black ‘Phuket Says No To Dolphin Shows’ T-shirts.

The members of Skal International Phuket herewith express our extreme disappointment with your recent change of policy.

No matter what the reasons are, we do believe that you owe an explanation to Skal International Phuket & South Thailand.

As a local reporter I’ve covered three key stories over the years about these shows using my pen and camera as weapons – the opening of the dolphinarium (I was threatened with a gun and given my marching orders off the property when trying to get information about the dolphin show venue), the sad tale of Milo the orangutan at Chalong Zoo and then the occasion when one of the tigers at the Kathu Tiger Kingdom had a bad day and took a swipe at an Australian. This gentleman decided that getting in a cage with a wild tiger and taking a selfie was a good idea. He ended up with a claw opening up his chest. Tiger – 1, Tourist – 0. Read the article HERE.

Animal shows in Phuket. 'Not in my back yard'! | News by Thaiger

(The Australian recovered fully with all his medical bills being paid by Tiger Kingdom)

With the Tiger Kingdom story we got the full PR happy-ending treatment from the public relations department of the zoo when they turned on their Thai charm, smiled and massaged their way through the media circus, protecting the Australian tourist from any ‘difficult’ questions.

On Phuket you can now go to a reptile and crocodile show, a tiger zoo, dolphin show, a few bird shows and any number of elephant shows and rides – all legal under Thai law. Then there’s also the awful Chalong Zoo. But they’re all extremely popular and profitable for the people that manage them.

There’s been countless documentaries and articles from animal-rights groups about bad practice, maltreatment and the prickly ethics of these shows, in Thailand and around the world. But the queues keep lining up to see these shows. Tourists from places like eastern Europe, China, South Korea, Japan, the middle east and the home team here in Thailand appear to delight in seeing animals doing party tricks and taking them for rides around the jungles of Phuket.

So, is it wrong?

It comes down to your very own passionate and heartfelt opinion. Whilst these companies are doing nothing wrong under the laws of the country they operate, we may disagree with their operation but should remind ourselves that we are, after all, just guests in this country. Is it our duty to ‘educate’ the locals about their poor attitudes to animals in these cases?

The farang media has given all these shows a fair pounding and, most of the time, a chance to respond but the shows remain open and the tourists continue to queue up in their busloads.

Of course we’ll continue to respond to any stories of cruelty where action clearly needs to be taken and respect the passion from those who seek to protect animals in Phuket.

 

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo by PR Phuket

2,473 new Covid-19 cases and 35 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. The majority of the new cases are local transmissions, primarily in Bangkok. 680 of the new cases were detected in prisons.

Thailand now has 42,988 active Covid-19 cases, a record high for the country. Out of those cases, more than 10,000 are linked to outbreaks at prisons. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 113,555 Covid-19 infections.

35 deaths involving Covid-19 patients were reported today, raising the pandemic’s death toll in Thailand to 649. Most of the new fatalities were reported in Bangkok.

Bangkok remains the epicentre in the latest wave of infections. The capital reported 873, raising the total since April 1 to 28,658.

There are now 29 Covid-19 clusters in 19 districts in Bangkok. The government has set up several locations for active case finding to contain the spread of the virus.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun, who gives the CCSA report in English, adds that Thai authorities are taking border breaches very seriously and security has tightened at land and sea borders as there have been a number of illegal entries involving those coming from neighbouring countries. Heightened border patrol has been an effort to prevent Covid-19 from being imported into Thailand.

Provinces with the highest number of new Covid-19 infections…

Province New cases Total since April 1
Bangkok 873 28,658
Nonthaburi 155 4,757
Samut Prakan 121 4,329
Pathum Thani 117 2,467
Samut Sakhon 63 1,930
Phetchaburi 43 645
Chon Buri 33 3,768
Nakhon Si Thammarat 30 757
Songkhla 29 1,041
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 28 936

Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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Thailand

Education Ministry launches online platform as schools’ reopening plans delayed

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Thailand’s Education Ministry is launching an online platform for public school students who are, once again, being forced to learn at home due to restrictions and limitations imposed by the government.

The third wave of the virus has prompted authorities to postpone the reopening of government schools from May 17 (yesterday) to June 1. However, as daily infections keep rising, that date may be amended again.

As the future of the pandemic is unclear, the Ministry has launched www.ครูพร้อม.com, an online platform titled Kru Prom or Teachers Ready in English. The portal features content under 6 categories featuring the word “Wanna” in reference to the more grammatically correct English words of “Want to.” The Wanna Know page, is dedicated to educators as it features e-books to help them boost their skills.

Wanna Learn, Wanna Know, Wanna Teach, Wanna Do, Wanna Watch, and Wanna Share are the categories that students can choose from. Each category has a wide range of choices for students that includes different types of media for each lesson.

Students or teachers are not required to use the new Kru Prom platform, as the Education Ministry says it is just an alternative for those who are interested in learning more. Likewise, teachers are not being told they must compile reports over the platform and it won’t be included in their performance evaluations.

The Ministry has also noted that the platform can be used, even while physically attending school, as a supplement to students’ learning.

Prominent education academic, Athapol Anunthavorasakul, is not impressed with the idea as he says children are exhausted from online/offline classes. He says children should be allowed to play during the break, even if it is extended. He says the most schools should require over the break, is for the students to share what they had learned.

But the Ministry already has released plans that include online learning – once schools are allowed to reopen. The classes will be conducted using onsite, on air, on demand, online, on hand, and hybrid formats. The Ministry is also offering free internet packages to students to help them make the move to online learning. Meanwhile, the Education Minister says the website’s recent launch has proved popular on the first day, gaining thousands of hits.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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Thailand

Thai students to get free unlimited internet to help with online learning

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Thai government school students are set to get free unlimited internet to help students move their studies online after the third wave of Covid-19 has forced schools’ reopening date to be postponed to June 1 from May 17. Digital Economy and Society Minister, Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn, in along with the Education Ministry, said the internet packages will be powered by Thailand’s major mobile and internet operators including AIS, True, Dtac and the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission. He says the ministry will also provide as many schools as possible with fibre-optic high-speed broadband to help broadcast lectures and seminars.

Chaiwut says on-site teaching will continue under strict provisions, if possible, along with on-air education via TV broadcasts and an increase in the availability of on-demand learning materials and books. The Ministry has launched www.ครูพร้อม.com, an online platform titled Kru Prom or Teachers Ready in English. The portal features content under 6 categories featuring the word “Wanna” in reference to the more grammatically correct English words of “Want to.” The Wanna Know page, is dedicated to educators as it features e-books to help them boost their skills.

Students and teachers are not required to use the new Kru Prom platform, as the Education Ministry says it is just an alternative for those who are interested in learning more. Likewise, teachers are not being told they must compile reports over the platform and it won’t be included in their performance evaluations. The Ministry has also noted that the platform can be used, even while physically attending school, as a supplement to students’ learning.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Treenuch Thienthong said admission exams for Mathayom 1 and 4 students will be held on May 22-23. Students, teachers and parents, who participate in the exams, will have to follow sanitation instructions at each testing venue, with all tests being given between a strict window of 9am to 12pm daily.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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