Bung Chawak Zoo
1st Visit: 7th June 2016
2nd Visit: 25th Feb 2017
3rd Visit: 14th April 2018
Bung Chawak or Bung Chawak Heritage zoo is located in the Suphanburi province. A government-run facility, it holds many animals and boasts a rather beautiful aquarium. The range of animals is diverse, from domestic animals through fish and birds all the way to a small African collection. All were in enclosures of varying size and adequacy with the herbivores, as usual, better off. The main draw is the area labelled the Big Cat zone. Here, there are vast numbers of cages containing tigers, lions, leopards and, disturbingly, ligers.
Whilst claiming to be about conservation, it is clearly not. There are a vast number of white tigers, some clearly severely inbred, with glassy unseeing eyes and hip problems amongst other issues. A small number of tigers were also in with lions, which had clearly resulted in serious fights. At least four animals had wholly, or partly missing tails. Then, of course, there were two ligers.
First & Second Visits: 7th June 2016/25th Feb 2017
The overall upkeep of the zoo was good but in keeping with standard Thai welfare laws. The big cat enclosures were bigger than most, averaging at about 10x20 metres - some larger and some significantly smaller. However, enrichment items were placed about and, for the most part, the enclosures were not overcrowded. The enclosures lacked any form of natural vegetation, though it is made of an earthy, rather dusty substrate. The tigers appeared hot and stressed, salivating and foaming at the jaws due to a lack of water.
There were a number of lions and tigers being kept together, presumably in an attempt to breed more ligers. At the time of the second visit (25th Feb 17), a tigress was being moved into an area with a lion, presumably to have another litter. There was no evidence of any tiger cubs, but there were two small lion cubs in a small area where they could be bottle-fed.
Sadly, the overall feel of the place was of a forgotten zoo. It seemed run down--a small surprise as it was a mere 30 baht entrance fee. How this covers any costs is unclear. Some sections were unused and nothing had been upgraded for a while.
Third Visit: 14th April 2018
This visit showed improvements in the welfare standards. All the enclosures had water provided and were less crowded. There were no cubs and no mixed species co-habitating. Enrichment of various types was noted in all enclosures, including hanging ropes with plastic tubs/bottles, tyres and roped wrapped around tree stumps. There were some tigers unseen--notably a very cross-eyed white male--however, reports from the DNP said that tigers had been sick here and it is possible that some have died since the last visit.
How Many Tigers?
Each area was comprised of an outside area and also a hidden den or night room
Each enclosure contained a pond for bathing, containing a small amount of water
No grass or natural vegetation in any of the enclosures
Some contained enrichment items such as tyres, but not all of them.
Caves and some platformed areas to climb
Cages/dens are concrete floored and measure about 4x4 metres
There is no enrichment or platforms within these cages
Physical & Mental Health
White tigers are most likely inbred and suffer from a number of ailments such as blindness, strabismus and hip problems
Excessive numbers of white tigers, some too many per enclosure
Body condition good
Two ligers were present
A number of injuries to tails including amputations, twisted tails and open wounds on the tips of tails
A few tigers seen pacing but not so many given the large number of animals
Tail injuries could also be from stress of the mixed environment
What we are doing to help
At this time we are raising awareness for the situation of the captive tigers in Thailand through education of the public and through a number of different petitions.
Head to our Petition zone to see how you can help.