1st Visit: 14th March 2017
2nd Visit: 24th April 2018
Songkla Zoo is one of seven facilties run by the Zoological Park Organisation (ZPO). This facility is located in Songkla near Hat Yai in one of the southern provinces. The zoo contains a wide variety of different species, each with their own large, species-specific enclosure. Animals around the zoo all appeared at ease, comfortable in their surroundings. The tigers, at least some of them, were Indo-Chinese and appear to be in a breeding programme - staff informed researchers on the first visit that there were 14 Indo-Chinese tigers. However, the second enclosure holds a female white Bengal tiger, which does go against conservation beliefs.
First visit: 14th March 2017
There were two large enclosures, one with four tigers, the other with two. Each were large, clean and spacious estimated at 400sqm. Each enclosure had natural vegetation including grass, bushes and trees, enabling the tigers to be able to hide completely from the public. This was complimented by a series of platforms for climbing, caves for sleeping and/or hiding, and logs for scratching. Further enrichment items included hanging objects, roped trees and tyres.
In the early afternoon there was a feeding show where the four tigers in the larger enclosure demonstrated their climbing, jumping and swimming abilities through a carefully planned enrichment routine using raw chicken and beef attached to a pulley system.
There appeared to be no hands-on interaction with any of the tigers. The tigers were all relaxed in the presence of humans, for the most part being disinterested with occasions of being alert when something caught their eye. Each of the tiger groups seemed to coexist well with each other, generally showing friendly behaviour, though during the feeding show, a couple of the tigresses had a little fight over food.
In general though, welfare of the tigers was good and definitely kept as a priority.
Second visit: 24th April 2018
There was no change in the physical and mental welfare of the tigers. All appeared to be behaving in the same calm, relaxed and interested manner as on the previous visit. Our researchers arrived at opening and were able to watch the tigers being let out into the enclosures, observing that the tigers instantly scent marked and patrolled their territory, much as they would in the wild.
The only differences to note was that one less female tiger was out in the larger feeding show enclosure. Staff also reported a lower number of tigers.
Enrichment items were still available and had been varied from last time to include small balls as well as the similar style hanging toys and tyres.
How Many Tigers?
Large enclosures with natural vegetation
Large moat in each that served as both barrier and pond
Plenty of places to hide
Enrichment in the form of toys, rope and feeding poles
Cave and platform areas to climb
No information on night rooms/lock down areas
Physical & Mental Health
Body condition - great
Physically fit as evidenced by tigers climbing the feeding pole
Tigers were interactive with each other
Showed interest in their surroundings
Not much pacing observed, but rather territorial marking and other natural behaviours
Showed playful, alert, relaxed behaviour
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.