Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years of work within zoos.
Return to Phuket Zoo
I have visited Phuket Zoo in Thailand before. It was about two years ago. I wasn't impressed then and I wasn't on this visit either.
I was in two minds about visiting at all as I was in the tail end of a fever and feeling a bit crotchety. In the end I decided to go. As long as my report was honest, which this is, then my health should not come into it.
PHUKET ZOO IS NOW CLOSED.....THANKFULLY.
The entrance fee was a hefty 500 Baht for adults and 300 Baht for children. I daresay that there is a special, much lower price for Thai nationals. The zoo was not busy during my visit but there was a steady flow of people. I reckon that the very minimum number of adult visitors they get in a day is 100 and probably double plus is a more realistic figure. So on the lowest they are taking would be 50,000 Baht each day. This is not money to be sneezed at in Thailand and impressions within the zoo did not reflect this. The zoo claims to cover 24 acres but I honestly doubt if it is even half that. It also claims a 100 species but I note that several mentioned on the sign at the entrance are no longer there. I noted also there appeared to be far less tigers than on my last visit. I wonder where they went?
The zoo was much as I remembered it. Impressive entrance, lovely gardens and nice (mainly) neat paths. To really stretch the nice things to say I should mention that most of the enclosures were clean.
Just about every cage and enclosure saying either 'Danger', 'Do not bang on cage' or 'Animal bites'. Only about a dozen cages in the whole zoo actually had a label on it saying what was inside. These were largely illegible and neither use nor ornament. The exception was the Aquarium where there were a number of good 'mind bite' signs of just the kind I like. Sadly most of these were unlit so you could not read them. In the main, those you could read did not refer to the occupants. So from an educational point of view the zoo was a complete non starter. This place prides itself with its Monkey Show, Crocodile Show and Elephant Show. Monkeys riding bicycles and elephants dancing does nothing for me. None of these are educational, it is just animal abuse by another name. I don't condemn the staff here because in all honesty they know no better.
Gate in Barrier Wide Open
It isn't safe. Definitely not. Sticking a few warning notices up is not the answer. Putting a double gauged strongly wired high barrier to protect people from touching three mean looking mature primates is one thing but leaving the gate in the barrier wide open makes it completely pointless. And whereas I know it is done in some places failing to have trap off facilities or even double doors on mature macaques is the height of stupidity. Even the tiger enclosures were not safe. There was virtually no supervision and with very little effort I could have let them out without anyone being any the wiser.
They have obviously not even heard of the word. There was no evidence to suggest that any form of enrichment has ever taken place. Even perching was at a minimum. So sad because it could so easily be put right. A swing or similar could transform a primates life.
Get Your Photo Taken With...
I cannot really say here but as far as I am aware Phuket Zoo is not a member of any zoo Breeding Programmes, nor do I think it should be without a radical change in management and structure. I am also unaware of Phuket zoo making any sort of contribution to in-situ conservation.
With the possible exception of the Smooth Otter, Mouse Deer, Fishing Cat and the Hornbills there are no species of extra special note. There are an overabundance of Peafowl and Siamese Crocodiles. Most of the animals appeared to be in fair physical condition apart from the scrawny deer which were dotted about.
Directly opposite the zoo entrance there is a huge newly built mansion. Now I don't know because no-one told me but I don't think I would be wrong at guessing that the zoo owner lived there. If it is the case then that is where all the money is going because it certainly is not going into the zoo. I am not against anyone making a buck or two but if animals suffer as a result then I can only condemn.
Phuket Zoo is a Bad Zoo. It is not a good zoo and any reputable collection deals with it at their peril. Management cannot argue that they do not have the money.
delphine781 from Thailand on September 13, 2011:
I was in Phuket Zoo and that needs a lot of improvements. Is not a zoo, its more a circus.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 08, 2011:
Janvh - Sadly this dysfunctional zoo has lost its way completely. Whereas I can appreciate differences in culture and can make allowances for that I cannot accept that the major raison d'etre for zoos are overlooked along with Health and Safety. You are right though. The possibilities for change are there. I could spend three days there and write a report for them. If they followed my recommendations they would be well on the way to becoming acceptable.
Janvh on May 08, 2011:
I've recently been there and I'm sad to say that conditions haven't changed. I might ask The Phuket Gazette to make a report on this matter in the coming weeks (since I have good connections there). It stupid and sad to see that the situation remains the same. If they'd invested a bit and made it nicer it would attract more tourist and they would give positive feedback to their crowd. But I assume this idea is just to "far fetched" for the zoo owners to realize. Just sad...
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on October 10, 2010:
TravelinAsia - Thank you. Sadly I learn that nothing has been done to improve conditions here since my last visit.
TravelinAsia from Thailand/Southeast Asia on October 10, 2010:
Great information Peter!
LeilaExcite on May 26, 2010:
It is sad not only to see tourists exploited but the animals too.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 17, 2010:
Definitely do NOT visit the Tiger Temple. I have written a hub on that too. Please take a look at. https://discover.hubpages.com/animals/Tiger-Temple...
Elephant stay in Ayutthaya is a very good bet. I have heard very good reports on the place.
danielle on May 17, 2010:
I am planning a trip to Thailand in november i came across yor hub when i was studying where to go in thailand that will be a good experience formy family and i know now not to go to phuket zoo, i was also planning to visit the tiger temple and do the elephant stay in Ayutthaya, would you recommend these or not
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 17, 2010:
Lucy - It is sad to learn that there has been no change.
Lucy on May 17, 2010:
I visited this Zoo last week (10.05.2010), it was the most dreadful shocking experience of the whole holiday. I left crying, its so awful to see how terribly the animals are treated. Its actually shocking that these animals can get no protection from their Government.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 12, 2010:
Thanks for the update Donna. It is so sad to learn worse things of this already horrible collection. It is not as if they don't have the money to put things right. As long as tourists continue to stream through the gates they are unlikely to consider change.
Donna on May 12, 2010:
Have just been to visit the zoo for an hour and we could not stand it for any longer time. I agree with all your comments, except for the fact that we also saw animals that were sick and dying and moaning in pain..
A goat was lying in it's own liquid faeces, moaning and looked on it's last legs and many animals appeared to hav mange or some other skin disease where their fur was falling out, leaving pink oozing scabs.
The one show we saw, a monkey show was grossly exploitative and the crowd was also gross - they seemed to lap it up, not to mention the irritating, shouting voice-over. They have less than zero respect for their animals there.
Also some of the enclosures were actually collapsing..
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on August 12, 2009:
Anna - Unfortunately such an animal welfare body does not exist. Those organisations with a little bit of 'power' tend to prey on easy targets with maximum publicity in Western Europe. It is not that they are unaware of zoos like Phuket.
Anna on August 12, 2009:
I've just returned from Phuket and I have to the say the zoo was the worst experience of the whole holiday. An absolute DISGRACE to Thailand. The animals are kept in abject cruelty and tourists pay to have their photos taken with some of these hapless creatures. I left in tears.
Someone from an international animal welfare body needs to close this place down now!
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on August 09, 2009:
Julie - presently this collection does minus zero for conservation. They do nothing at all. They harm conservation by pure animal exploitation.
julie on August 09, 2009:
I've been there too, about 7 years ago, and we paid them $5 to take pictures with 2 mature tigers. We were so stupid to do this! This zoo appeared to need better conservation programs too.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on June 30, 2009:
cutiepie- the really sad thing is that this place should know better. It tends to pander to ego's rather than give attention to the animals.
cutiepie on June 30, 2009:
oooh.horrid zoo! poor animals...