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Save Orangutans in Thailand From a Life Behind Iron Bars

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11 Orangutans rescued from private zoo

By The Nation
Published on February 23, 2009
Officers raid Crocodile and Tiger World in Phuket, where animals were being held illegally.

In a raid that has only recently been reported, a team of National Parks Department officers and wildlife activists on February 5 raided a private zoo in Phuket City and rescued 11 young orangutans being held there illegally to serve as a tourist attraction.

The successful raid followed several reports from tourists to the non-governmental Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) that ten young orangutans were on display at Crocodile and Tiger World, a private zoo located in Phuket City.

The zoo also features more than 10,000 crocodiles, Bengal tigers, ostriches and gibbons.

Attractions at the zoo allow people to bottle feed baby tigers for a small fee and watch an attractive young woman stick her head into the mouth of an enormous crocodile.

WFFT secretary-general Edwin Wiek said the raid followed several tip-offs from tourists aware of the plight of the highly endangered orangutans. They sent in pictures and video clips of the primates, which Wiek used to convince officials to organise a January 22 raid on the zoo.

Unfortunately, the first raid was unsuccessful because the media leaked news of the impending raid in time for the zoo owner to hide the apes.

In the successful second raid, carried out on February 5, authorities found 11 orangutans ranging in age from less than two years old to about five years in a small stock room, Wiek said.

All 11 animals are now being given medical checks at the WFFT's Rescue Centre in Ratchaburi, he said.

"Two of them are actually quite sick, having trouble with parasites. The other ones weren't fed the right foods and have some bad dental problems. I don't think they will go back to Indonesia soon - or even if they'll go back - because in Indonesia there is so much trouble with the animals in captivity. But at least this zoo is not going to exploit them any longer or import .

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