Saturday, February 18, 2006


It can't be too exciting being locked up in a zoo, but getting passed on to an even worse one is a lousy fate for any creature. Such is life for a bunch of unlucky koalas, kangaroos, dingoes, possums, and other mammals down under. The following article comes from the Australian newspaper - The Age.

Concern over zoo deal on animals

Melbourne Zoo has agreed to send Australian native animals to a troubled Thai safari park at which it is alleged that large numbers of animals have died.

The zoo and its Sydney counterpart will send about 40 native animals, including koalas, kangaroos, dingoes and possums, to the Chiang Mai Night Safari in a deal that will see the importation to Australia of eight Asian elephants.

Details of the plan are revealed in a memorandum of agreement signed between the Thai Government and the Victorian and NSW governments in June 2004.

The agreement was tabled in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Sydney during a recent battle by animal welfare groups to halt the elephant import.

One prominent Thai animal activist, who cannot be named, said there had been many animal deaths at the Thai safari park. He said birds were dying every day, three out of six crocodiles had died of infection and one hyena was killed by others.

Thai media have claimed 104 animals have died.

Rebecca Brand, spokeswoman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said her organisation was concerned about the animal transfer.

"We definitely have concerns about the animals at Night Safari, about Australian wildlife going there and whether their needs could be met," she said.

The agreement commits the Australian zoos to helping their Thai partner become an international leader in wildlife presentation. Training and advice will be provided to park staff.

Mark Williams, media relations manager at Taronga Zoo, said in a statement devised with Melbourne Zoo that the transfer of Australian animals to Thai zoos was not contingent on the elephant program.

He said Australian animals held by Thai zoos would be managed under Australian laws and any illness or injury to the animals would have to be reported. He said zoo staff would be raising the reports of deaths at Night Safari with Thai authorities on a visit to Thailand next week.

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