Happily the 2.5 acre Angkor Zoo is now closed.
The infamous Angkor Zoo was located a short distance outside of Siem Reap in Cambodia en route to Angkor Wat. There were varying accounts of the zoo on the internet but they really hid the truth 'spacious forested Serow enclosures' sounds quite nice but leads one up to being shocked. More than one account says that the zoo held Cheetah though I strongly doubt that it ever did. Why when after one had paid to enter this deplorable collection one would ever "If you wish, you can donate some money for the maintenance of the zoo." For what? To prolong the misery that this collection endures. This was a dysfunctional zoo making no contribution whatsoever to anything but the owners pocket and this is where the donated money would have ended up.
The zoo was ordered to be closed by the Cambodian government in 2007 because of the complaints about the conditions and the numerous animal deaths and disappearances.
Angkor Zoo Crocodiles
The report below is taken directly from my travel journal 'The Itinerant Zookeeper'.
On my way back to Siem Reap I stopped in at Angkor Zoo. Without a shadow of a doubt the worst maintained collection I have visited anywhere, ever (just beating the snake farm outside Chiang Mai). The only positive thing I could come up with to say is that nothing, as far as I could see, looked underweight.
The entrance fee was $2.00. The ticket said "ANIMAL VISIT TICKET - For Participating to nourish animals - No 864 "
Now whereas I was pleased at the lack of risk assessment at the temples here it was needed desperately. Of the several primate enclosures I looked at, none had a padlock on the door. Imagine the flimsiest bit of wire you can and you would be right as to what was holding doors shut. Now as there was no 'split off' facilities it suggests that the staff go in with all the monkeys and gibbons and that presents perhaps a worse problem. There is no primate more dangerous than someone else’s pet. These primate cages were horrible in the extreme. There were no barriers and whereas at one time they had been double meshed, chicken wire on top of chain link this had long since deteriorated. Some cages had swings but in spite of these there was nil enrichment. All the inmates looked thoroughly pissed off. There was no food seen, but then I don't know what their feeding schedule was. There should have been water though, it was a very hot day, but most enclosures did not. Many of the
enclosures had pools but practically all of these were too shallow or dirty or thick with algae scum (I like algae but don't like scum). The pools should be deep enough for the occupants to immerse themselves, particularly if you happen to be a large aquatic turtle or a huge magnificent otter.
Where there was food available it seemed to be either some sort of minnow type fish or grain. The exceptions would be watermelon provided for the unfortunate fruit bats and myhah food for the mynahs at the zoo entrance.
I was told there was a clouded leopard here but I didn't see one. There was an 'ordinary' leopard in a tiny concrete cell. Judging by the way it 'spoke' it was an ex pet.
There were three bears. A three footed animal held alone in cramped inadequate accommodation and two others in a double pit. None had water. Happily the two had located a below ground pipe and tapped into that.
All the bird cages were horrible. Inadequate perching and nowhere to get away. People could walk right around, and there being no barrier, bang on the mesh. That’s just what was happening. Unsupervised young kids tired of tormenting the monkeys and teasing the crocodiles were moving on to terrifying the birds. And did I say anything? Yes I did in the most diplomatic of ways, but for what? I won't be there tomorrow.
As far as I could see the zoo served no useful function whatsoever. It is not even a nice place to relax.
The Zoo Hubs
Read more reports on zoos at THE ZOO HUBS
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 12, 2011:
Thank you feenix.
feenix on May 12, 2011:
Peter, as usual, you published a well-written informative "zoo hub". And I think that your tracking of "dysfunctional zoos" is both a very good idea and a public service. The series has prompted me to be on the lookout for various kinds of animal abuse, and there is plenty of it in the place in which I live, New York City.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 10, 2011:
Alastar Packer - Thanks for the comment. In attitudes to animals it is down only in part to education but mainly to deep rooted cultural beliefs too. Religion plays a part as well to a degree.
In the West we have a huge majority who just do not understand what a good zoo and the associated conservation education etc is all about. Sticking with Asia....most Western visitors to Safari World outside of Bangkok think it is wonderful. It is a great place for a visit, you can have a good day out but there is NO conservation, NO education, NO research etc It is a dysfunctional zoo.
Alastar Packer from North Carolina on May 10, 2011:
Mien Gott! What a despicable s**t pit Peter. The monkeys, like Russell-D wrote, new beggar children for Asia. The Croc pit made the worst Alligator farm I've ever seen in U.S. look humane in comparison. To cage any mammal in a small concrete cage is the height of 'zoo' barbarity and callousness ex-pet or not. Peter its beginning to sink in deeper what an awesome service you are doing and I can't thank you enough. But what is it for example(outside of profit), about a lot of Asian culture, people and officials that have these attitudes towards animals in their exhibits and other things? Not saying this is an all inclusive situation in Asia.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 09, 2011:
Yes David - The monkeys around Angkor have a well deserved nasty reputation. I watched them mugging people for their possessions. Nothing you can do either. They are cunning and evil little beasts.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 09, 2011:
crocman1111 - There were four croc farms in the immediate area. I imagine they all went to those. All about money. Very reputable people were involved in moving the stock out so no fears of intoduction messes.
Russell-D from Southern Ca. on May 09, 2011:
We certainly know where the monkey's went. Try to have a bite of refreshment at Angkor Wat and you are joined by one or more looking for a taste (or all) or what you're eating. Never saw so many monkeys running free in one place except in the Ngorongoro crater in Africa. Good collection of crocs though, fun to watch as they move and freeze and hold the freeze for minutes. But, when they move, they really move. Thanks for the reminder, Peter. David Russell
crocman1111 from Frankfurt, Germany on May 09, 2011:
Congratulations! One important step to the right direction.I hope the crocs will be given to any croc farms instead of thinking of reintroduce them to the wild without genetic screening.