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Activist demands answers over death of Siberian tiger at zoo

COMMENT: Having documented ongoings at the this tiger zoo at Ubon Rathchathani it was clear that the management was involved with a tiger farm on the Laos side and was trafficking cats across the Mekong. As such poisoning tigers for carcasses to then be shipped on would not be surprising. The fact that supposedly this Siberian Tiger ( the chance of there being any pure bred subspecies left in any of these collections is more than slim) was acquired with Thai taxpayer money is new but not surprising considering a former member of parliament owns the facility and there have been statements to the effect that the original stock was imported from Canada (which would have been illegal under the CITES convention if it was a commercial transaction as implied, involving a CITES I listed species not bred in a corresponding CITES approved breeding facility).

Karl Ammann


Stop Global Warming Association president Srisuwan Janya will file a petition to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday, demanding an inquiry into the Ubon Ratchathani Zoo over the alleged delay in investigating the “unnatural death” of a Siberian tiger.

Srisuwan said the endangered tiger was killed after it ate food mixed with pesticides on April 13 last year but nobody at the zoo or the Zoological Park Organisation had provided any information about the death. In fact, he alleged that they had tried to cover it up.

Srisuwan, who will make his petition via the government’s Bangkok public complaints centre, claimed the zoo set up an inquiry too late. Tissue and organs from the dead tiger were sent for laboratory tests at the Ubon Ratchathani Medical Science Centre on April 19 – nearly a week after its death. The tests showed the tiger’s organs contained the pesticide carbofuran.

“Such a tiger’s death is a big deal, as the species is nearly extinct according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. But the zoo director, the Zoological Park Organisation chief and its board members were not enthusiastic about probing its death to punish those involved,” Srisuwan said.

He said people involved in the illegal wildlife trade had a great deal of influence in Thailand and wild animal carcasses, especially those of tigers, were in high demand as medicinal ingredients. He speculated that those involved in the tiger’s death might have killed the animal so its carcass, or part of it, could be sold into the wildlife trade.

“This Siberian tiger was regarded as Thailand’s asset,” Srisuwan said. “As it was reportedly procured with taxpayers’ money, related government agencies must probe its death and reveal the truth to the public. This action would discourage a future reoccurrence and prompt this zoo and other such facilities to increase their security.”

If the government finds answers in this case, it would boost confidence among members of the World Association for Zoos and Aquariums, which will host its conference in Thailand this year, Srisuwan added.


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