Night Safari accused of poor management

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The Nation, Bangkok          March 14, 2006

Chiang Mai’s Night Safari accused of poor management

Chiang Mai’s Night Safari zoo has fallen afoul of wildlife activists
again, with claims that 104 animals have died there because of poor

The claim came after a woman veterinarian was rushed to hospital from
the zoo at the weekend after being struck on the head by an iron bar
when a white rhinoceros struggled violently in a holding cage while
she treated its hurt eye. The woman suffered a brain haemorrhage, but
is recovering in hospital.

Veterinarian Charuayporn Sae Ju, 26, was attempting to wash the hurt
eye of the five-year-old Indian rhino named Roger. She was expected
to be released from hospital in a few days.

Night Safari director Pisal Wasuwanich said the rhino might have been
frustrated at being kept in the cage during the eye treatment.

The accident was revealed one day after the Wildlife Fund Thailand
claimed that 104 animals have died at the zoo, a casualty rate that
has been kept secret. The deaths reportedly include a new-born

The zoo’s project director, Plodprasop Suraswadi, admitted the giraffe
and its mother died during the birth of the calf on January 29 because
both the mother and calf were in bad health.

Moreover, he said several birds died after their wing tendons were cut
by unskilled staff to stop them from flying away.

"We regret the deaths," Plodprasop said. "However, the death toll is
less than 1 per cent of all wildlife in the zoo."

Wildlife Fund Thailand director Nikom Puttha claimed to have been
informed by zoo staff that 104 animals, including giraffes, birds,
hyenas, ostriches and several kinds of deer, died in the period up to
January 8 because of poor treatment, tension because of transportation
and the inappropriate environment of the zoo.

Zoo director Pisal said the number of wildlife casualties is not that
high. However, a number of imported animals have died during

These deaths weren’t the zoo’s fault, he said. The senders were
responsible according to an arrangement that animals have to survive
for at least 15 days after their arrival, he said.

He also admitted that two gorals – long-haired goat-antelopes from
mountainous regions of East Asia – jumped to their death from a cliff
in the zoo because of tension caused by their new environment.

"But I can say that the zoo’s management and animal-treatment systems
are efficient enough as we have four veterinarians at the zoo to
carefully look after the wildlife," Pisal said.


THE BANGKOK POST          Tuesday March 14, 2006

NIGHT SAFARI: Plodprasop denies animal deaths at zoo

Chiang Mai Night Safari Park director Plodprasop Suraswadi angrily denied
reports that over 100 wild animals at the zoo have died, saying there were
only a few deaths, mostly birds.

Mr Plodprasop said it was untrue many wild animals had fallen ill and died
at the zoo, but admitted some had died, common at a newly-established zoo.

"Most of the dead creatures are birds which underwent surgery to cut their
wing tips to prevent them from escaping. But unfortunately the birds
suffered severe bleeding and died," said Mr Plodprasop.

"Other large animals which died at the Night Safari included a hyena, which
died after being hit by another animal in the zoo, a female giraffe and its
new-born baby. That’s all," he said.

Mr Plodprasop was responding to the recent disclosure of a confidential
report by Nikhom Phuttha, of the Wildlife Fund Thailand, saying that many
species of wild animals at the park had fallen ill and died due to
mishandling by the zoo’s staff and poor management of the zoo.

Mr Nikhom claimed the report was produced by a zoo staff member who could no
longer endure seeing wild animals being raised in such poor conditions and
taken care of by inexperienced vets.

According to the report, more than 60 rare birds died after the zoo’s vets
cut off their wing tips. Other animals, such as deer, emu and wildebeest
died as a result of transportation, unhygienic and poor conditions of animal
cages and mistreatment by unskilled vets.

Mr Plodprasop said the report was groundless. He criticised opponents of
caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for spreading rumours about the
"massive" animal deaths to discredit the Night Safari Park.

Mr Plodprasop said leaflets had been distributed in Chiang Mai, urging
people not to visit the park, which was one of Mr Thaksin’s flagship
projects in the premier’s home province.



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