Samui Aquarium & Tiger Zoo
1st Visit: 16th March 2017
2nd Visit: 25th April 2018
Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo is located on Koh Samui. As the name suggests, it has a large aquarium alongside a zoo full of tigers and leopards. There are a number of shows that take place in the zoo as well and these include a tiger show, sea lion show, otter show and bird show. Their website has announced that they are undergoing upgrades, something that was evident when our researchers visited for the second time. The website also states that they take the welfare and happiness of their animals seriously, through their living quarters and the carefully chosen animal lover staff, though this is not so evident.
First Visit: 16th March 2017
The zoo is setup in a long winding pathway, forcing guests to follow a particular route. In the tiger zoo section there were two enclosures with tigers these were on the closer side to small measuring approximately 10x15m. They were fairly clean and contained grass, trees, dirt substrate, ponds, platforms and shaded areas. There was no extra enrichment to note. There was also nowhere for the tigers to hide from the public. The tigers out in these areas either displayed high levels of aggression of complete disinterest.
Cages for the tigers out in the enclosure and those that were not were in a walled off area. The only way to view them was through a series of holes in the wall. These appear to measure 1x2m (enough space for adult tigers to turn around) and were concrete floored. Water was provided but many were left dirty with days worth of faeces on the floor. Again, these were barren and devoid of enrichment - also walled off from the enclosures so tigers would have no interaction with each other. Tigers here were pacing with the exception of one tigress who chuffed upon seeing our researchers.
Two tigers were out for photos - an adult, Sarah and a cub. The adult was nine years old and seemed at ease with the proceedings. Though wearing a collar she was not chained to the platform even when tourists entered. When tourists were not present, she had access to a small outside area and some water. She was relaxed and calm the entire time. The cub was not so fortunate and was confined to a 2x3m tiled area with nothing but a plastic bottle and ball to play with. Other cubs were observed in cages close by and it seemed that they were rotated through the cage during the day. All the cubs were restless and pacing.
The tigers in the tiger show were stressed and aggressive. The entire show was run poorly with the tigers not entirely obeying and being forced, in the usual manner, to perform a series of unnatural tricks that included jumping through double hoops of fire, walking on a tightrope and standing on their hind legs. Tigers here all were declawed.
Second Visit: 25th April 2018
Overall there was no change in the state of the zoo. A third tiger enclosure had been built along the same lines as those previously there. However, this one was glass fronted so visitors and tigers were separated. Elsewhere, enclosures and cages were the same both in their lack of enrichment and also their uncleanliness.
Many of the holes had been blocked up preventing as full a viewing of the hidden cages as before. However, the same chuffing tigress was seen in her cage - again she responded positively to our researchers.
Sarah, the adult tiger was still the main photo tiger. As before, a solitary cub was confined to the second photo area, though this time it was provided with a large branch of bamboo leaves to play with. Other cubs were again witnessed in a second cage area.
The tiger show was the same with the tigers not entirely performing all the tricks and behaving in an aggressive manner. A minor improvement was noted in that none of the tigers were forced to jump through flaming hoops of fire. However, later a leopard was brought out to do that trick.
Generally this zoo has very low welfare standards.
How Many Tigers?
There are three enclosures for the tigers
Each held a pond and platform but no enrichment
Numbers of tigers occupying the enclosure ranged from one to three
Some natural vegetation, grass and earth substrate
No place to hide from the public, but shaded areas from sun
Cages were cement-floored
Water was provided
Physical & Mental Health
Body condition was adequate
Tigers were declawed and lameness was observed
Staff, for the most part, appeared friendly/caring with the exception of the tiger show
Whips were used in the tiger show
Tiger for photos was calm and relaxed
Tigers in enclosures ranged from disinterest to aggression
Tigers in hidden cages chuffed
Pacing was observed
Tigers in show were stressed and aggressive
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.