Animal advocates are fighting to see the “world’s saddest gorilla” released from captivity.
Thai authorities have failed to release an aging gorilla that has been kept in a zoo atop a high-rise shopping mall for 33 years, with the owner refusing to sell the animal for less than $780,000.
Bua Noi, whose name means ‘little lotus’ – a symbol of purity and strength in some cultures – arrived at Bangkok’s Pata Mall in 1990 when he was just one year old and has been locked away ever since. a filthy enclosure.
The Thai government, animal rights group PETA and even pop singer Cher have been begging Bua Noi’s keeper to release the animal since 2015, hoping she will die peacefully with other gorillas.
However, the owner of Pata Zoo reportedly told Thai Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa that he would only release Bua Noi for 30 million Thai baht, or about $782,000.
Thanetpol Thanaboonyawat, the secretary to the minister of natural resources and environment, said last week that the ministry had organized charity fundraising events but failed to raise enough funds to meet the landlord’s demands.
“We have organized activities in the past to campaign for the release of Bua Noi and to raise funds. We collected donations from Bua Noi supporters. But the problem is that the owner refuses to sell Bua Noi. When he agrees to sell it, the price is too high,” Thanaboonyawat told ViralPress.
Thanaboonyawat explained that Bua Noi is considered private property, so there is nothing they can do to remove it. Her owner bought her for three million baht from Germany when she was one year old.
“The owner bought Bua Noi before laws were introduced to prevent the trade and ownership of endangered animals and wild animals,” he explained.
Healthy gorillas generally have a lifespan of between 35 and 40 years.
The dilapidated zoo was previously ordered to close in 2015 by officials from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants after it was discovered that it lacked the proper documentation. The zoo eventually reopened and kept the gorilla.
According to PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker, the conditions in which Bua Noi lives are “horrific and cruel”, adding that the animal suffers from “extreme psychological distress”.
“This seedy facility is internationally condemned as one of the world’s worst zoos,” he said. “I urge everyone to keep the pressure on Pata Zoo and demand that they let PETA help remove these animals to reputable sanctuaries that would meet their physical and mental needs.”
A zoo spokesperson denied that there were “negotiations to sell Bua Noi with anyone or with agencies”.
“The current team of Pata Pinklao department store managers has been in charge of management since August 28, 2020,” they said. “The aging gorilla has spent his life at the zoo and has become accustomed to this environment and a disease-free place for over 30 years.”
Zoo director Kanit Sermsirimongkol maintains that there is “no problem” with the animals living in the rooftop zoo and that Bua Noi’s sad look – which many attribute to his living conditions – is no is that his “natural facial expression”.
“Before the opening, we consulted zoologists and veterinarians and selected only the animals that were suitable for the zoo. And they were treated well,” he said.
“The criticism does not concern me because we know it better. These people saw her picture on the internet and think she is depressed. But that’s how she looks like humans – some have a sad face and some have a happy face,” he insisted.
“We took care of Bua Noi like our own daughter,” he continued. “I know we’ll have to find a suitable new home for her one day, but it’s not a good idea to immediately release her into the wild without teaching her to survive on her own.”
New York Post