One of the most infamous tiger facilities in Thailand, Sriracha Tiger Zoo, closed its doors during the pandemic. Home to in excess of 400 tigers, this zoo was a constant breeding facility focusing on tourist entertainment over tiger welfare.
Enclosures and cages were barren, concrete-floored areas with little to no natural environment for the tigers. On top of that, large numbers of tigers were crammed into the same space with few resources often resulting in fights and agonistic behaviours.
When Sriracha Tiger zoo announced its closure it was a great relief in some regards. This is because the tigers would not be made to go through tourist interactions or be forced into partaking in the circus-style show. However, we did raise concerns regarding what would happen to the 400+ Tigers. Where would they go and how could they be cared for?
As it turns out, most of them never went anywhere. After being permanently and officially closed since 2020, Sriracha Tiger Zoo once again opened its doors with tigers in mid-December 2022.
Via a new entrance, the new zoo, dubbed' Tiger Topia' is only slightly different to what it once was. But is it any better?
While there are some changes, this zoo has mostly stayed the same. The cages and enclosures are the same concrete-floored, largely barren areas. However, there are fewer tigers in each space- our researcher only counted 38 tigers compared to the 100+ usually observed pre-covid and lockdown. And this, while only a small change, is better than nothing.
In terms of the enclosures, there was also mild improvement with wooden structures to provide shade and the ponds were actually all filled with clean water. There were some logs for scratching too though these are pointless as the tigers are declawed and thus unable to make use of these enrichment items.
A noticeable change was the lack of cubs. But, it's not clear whether no cubs had been born yet or if breeding has been reduced. If it is the latter, this is probably only due to lack of funds rather than any attempt to improve welfare. That being said, it was better to see older tigers only and something we encourage.
With regards to entertainment, again, there was some good and some bad. It does appear that the wars show is entirely gone - a massive step forward. But, the Shoot and Feed is still there. And, a separate tiger feeding program has been added alongside a 'Walk the Tiger 'option Photos with tigers are still there too, albeit without some of the very small cubs.
Sadly, there is not much improvement and welfare is still poor. Additional questions still remain.