Covid-19 has been sweeping the globe for the last year, with humans and animals alike feeling the effects of the pandemic. Zoo animals in Thailand have been hit hard, with long zoo closures and subsequent reduced income from a lack of tourists. Animal welfare, which was often already poor, has only worsened. Added to this, there has been no external or governmental support for these facilities to help them through the pandemic.
With the third wave underway in Thailand, Thai zoos are once more shutting their doors. While many facilities are simply shutting their doors due to the current restrictions, some are not. Already, a number of facilities were forced to close down permanently during the height of the pandemic in 2020. However, it seems more may follow.
Sriracha Tiger Zoo is the latest facility to struggle during Covid-19. For years, this facility has been under the scrutiny of animal welfare organisations due to the large number of tigers, and other animals, kept within the grounds. The zoo holds in excess of 300 tigers many of which take part in interactive photo sessions, shoot and feed programs and also a circus performance.
The large numbers of tigers kept in small spaces has raised numerous welfare concerns including overcrowding and over-breeding. Additionally, tigers are declawed, often not fed enough, treated aggressively during photos and lack natural living spaces. These issues, and more, have prompted a number of calls for the zoo’s closure over the years.
On 1st May, the Sriracha Tiger Zoo Facebook page announced their closure due to the ongoing pandemic implying that the closure this time may be permanent. However, it is unclear at this time whether the facility is going to close for good, or whether it will remain closed for the duration of this latest Covid wave.
While many people would be happy to see the facility shut down, there are issues with this outcome too. The 300+ tigers would have to be housed somewhere, so where would they go? Housing this number of tigers requires considerable resources and can have devastating consequences, as demonstrated by the Tiger Temple closure. Government facilities simply do not have the space or the money to accommodate them in a manner conducive to good welfare.
At this time, it is unclear what will happen to the tigers. Our primary concern is about what will happen to these tigers if, or when, it does close.
**Check back with us as this story unfolds.