Published on October 9, 2007
Zoological Park Organisation director Sopon Damnui said zoo executives had tried to improve the living conditions of the animals, which in general were still healthy except for being confined in small spaces.
Udom Tanwattanakul, head of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department's Wildlife Registration Division, visited Pata Zoo without advance warning yesterday morning along with veterinarians and wildlife experts.
Udom said they found no sick or ill-treated animals except some penguins that had suffered some feather loss, possibly due to annual moulting. Officials collected the feathers and water samples from their cages to see if they were ill.
Two tigers, previously reported as being thin, looked to be of average weight, despite zoo staff putting them on a controlled diet to prevent them becoming obese and falling ill, he said.
A 20-year-old female gorilla that had looked lethargic in news reports appeared animated yesterday, Udom said. Its cage was 10 metres by 18 metres, which was sufficient for one ape, he said, adding that the department would recheck conditions at the zoo. Its last check had been five months ago when nothing suspicious was found.
Sopon, who is also president of the Thai Zoo Association, of which Pata Zoo is a member, said that he had discussed the animals' living conditions with zoo executives, particularly about the extension of living spaces. He said the executives had tried to make improvements as suggested by the association but many things had to be taken into consideration. Some animals had been raised in air-conditioned cages and they might become ill if suddenly moved to a natural environment.
Sopon said the gorilla, the only female in the region, had been raised in an air-conditioned cage since it was three years old.
Janjira Pongrai, The Nation