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Sri Racha Tiger Zoo

Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years of work within zoos.

Sri Racha Tiger Zoo first opened its gates to the public in April 1997. It is situated about half an hour outside of Pattaya City, just off the road to Bangkok. The 100 acre site is a popular collection because of its aggressive advertising campaigns and so is a 'must see' for tourists visiting both Pattaya and Bangkok. The collection is a particular favourite of Korean visitors to Thailand though local schools are also regular patrons. It has been stated that there are between 2,500-3,000 visitors per month. I believe this to be a very low figure and reckon they are getting double this and more a week. Salaries and food are around 15 million Thai Baht per month. The entrance fee for an adult is 300 Thai Baht which is exactly the same as the very much smaller Monster World in Pattaya.

It is for tigers that Sri Racha Tiger Zoo is so justly infamous. They have 400 at the present time (July 2009) and are still breeding them in numbers. "We supply other zoos" my guide said. One of the very very few pluses I could give this zoo is that they neither breed nor keep White Tigers. There were numerous cubs of varying ages during my visit. I was not really counting but I must have seen 40 or so. They really believe this is a big deal here. There is a large sign up to say one of their four year Tigresses 'Nu' produced and reared three litters of five in a single year (1998). This sort of factory farming of Tigers is both cruel and stupid. I don't doubt that this place has been trying to beat their record ever since.

Article after article, webpage after webpage hark on about the wonderfully successful breeding programme for the highly endangered 'Royal Bengal Tigers' in Sri Racha. What utter piffle and rubbish. Firstly there is No breeding programme. They breed Tigers. I cannot argue with that. But endangered? I doubt that anyone really knows what kind of Tiger these really are. There is almost certainly a bit of something other than Bengal there. Even if I am wrong then these animals are now so inbred that they are absolutely no use to any genuine Breeding Programme anywhere. Tigers here are kept in a variety of different types of accommodation. Some was more spacious than others. There was none that I thought was any good. Very basic and mainly boring.

There are a few other species, the most numerous of which are Siamese Crocodiles. How many? Nobody seemed to know, but certainly several thousand. Even so there are collections with far more Crocodiles on the outskirts of Bangkok.

There actually is not that many species in Sri Racha. The Tigers, Crocodiles, Elephants, Spotted Deer, Orangutan, Domestic Pigs, Capybara, Domestic Dog, Dromedary Camels, Water Buffalo, Donkey, Blue & Gold Macaw, Scorpions, Green Iguanas, Molorus & Reticulated Pythons. Certain species were conspicuous by their absence. Where was the Himalayan Bear, the Chimpanzees, the Ostrich and the Wallaby?

I paid 600 Baht for the 'all inclusive' minibus tour to Sri Racha Tiger Zoo only to find I was on a guided tour. I thought I would break free but as I have been round twice before as an individual but I stayed with the tour most of the way in the interest of science. This did mean being led to each paying photographic opportunity in its turn and past every gift shop.

First stop was the Pig nursing baby Tigers and the Tiger nursing baby Pigs. What I ask you is the point? Regardless of whatever explanations given it serves no useful purpose whatsoever. The one and only reason it is being done is because it is 'cute'. Maybe not to the thinker or those that care about animals but it is 'cute' to your average Joe Public who "Oooooh" and "Aaaaah" and think it is clever and wonderful. One of their signs says that Tigers nursed by a sow are less fierce and that is why they are doing it. If I were stupid enough to accept that as an explanation I would want to know why exactly the Tigress is nursing the Piglets. To make them more fierce? Not to forget the Pig, Tiger and Dogs being reared together. 'Happy Families' they call it. Ignorance and cruelty I call it. Cubs are apparently routinely de-clawed as well which is yet another disgusting and cruel practice.

Moving on from this bizarre nursery the opportunity is there to have your photograph taken with a Tiger Cub. People do too. Just about everyone in my party forked out the two hundred or so Thai Baht to feed a cub.

Next was a glass fronted enclosure which contained several immature Tigers and two Kenyan Africans dressed in artificial Tiger skins. Our guide seemed to think this was perfectly OK. "They understand animals" she said. I did not think it was right. Nor on watching them did I believe they actually had a clue about animals. Or maybe they did and did not care. All they were really interested in was getting people to drop money into the donation box on the public side of the glass.

From here we entered the Crocodile 'Museum'. Actually this was quite interesting. There were some interesting photographs and displays. As this was the 'Crocodile Eggs Breaking Season' it was the opportunity for some of our party to pay their 200 Thai Baht to break open an egg each and extract a hatchling crocodile and have their photograph taken. I wondered just how far these hatchlings would get. Their tiny heads on key rings? Preserved in the schoolroom or end up on the menu in the zoo restaurant. I recollect on my last visit that crocodile figured very highly on the menu. "You can have anything you like as long as it is crocodile." Crocodile is much favoured by Chinese customers I was told. Sri Racha Tiger Zoo is in the Crocodile Farming business and as well as producing meat they are after skins as well. Only skins of low quality can be obtained when large numbers of animals are housed together. There are the inevitable fights, bites and chompings. The zoo gets its prime leather by farming out single animals to 1,500 different locations in Thailand where they are reared to size before slaughter and skinning.

The Elephant Museum was a waste of time. I recall being unimpressed on my previous visit with its dusty half finished appearance. This time was no different, in fact it looked worse. I wondered if the Bali Marine and Safari Park got their ideas from here. In spite of the failings of that collection they definitely do it better. The grounds of Sri Racha Tiger Zoo are well shaded and the paths originally were in good repair. I thought though on my last visit a year and a bit ago that things were going downhill. This visit confirmed it.

The Crocodile Show was as I would expect it to be. A couple of people poking and prodding and standing on poor crocodiles. An absolute waste of time. There was the inevitable put your head in a Crocs mouth. I don't doubt that I was not the only person in the audience that wished the Croc would wreak its revenge. No education here, it was not even clever. I actually thought it lacked professionalism too even for the crappy persecution it presented. I could have quadrupled their 'tips' with a couple of simple manouveres.

The Tiger Show was just a circus with all those stupid ancient circussy tricks. Nothing clever, no imagination and certainly no education. I really don't know where they get away with getting Tigers to jump through hoops of fire in the modern world. The Tiger Zoo has apparently been quoted that this is part of their natural behaviour.

It is at shows that I watch the audience reactions and see what goes on. Often my companions are getting a great thrill and enjoying every minute. It is at times like these that I wonder if it is me who is the odd one out and that my thoughts and opinions are out of place.

Under Thailand law all tigers in the country now have to have an identifying microchip implanted. This law was brought in with the Sri Racha collection specifically in mind. I am all for it but only if it is backed up by other legislation.

A tiger goes missing.....what happened to it?

"It died!"

Where is the body?

We burned it!

Scroll to Continue

And equally this could be 50 tigers are missing.

What happened to them?

There was an infectious disease. They died. We burned them!

It may sound a bit dramatic but such incidents are easy to stage (think back to Safari World, Bangkok and the Orangutans). Similar loopholes exist in European Zoo legislation. Autopsies are preferred or requested but not legally demanded. Animals CAN disappear. As long as the missing are recorded on that end of year stock list, who is going to know where they really went?

In December 2002, one hundred Sri Racha bred Tigers were sold to the Sanya Greatest World of Love in China. It was suspected that the intention was to put these Tigers on the menu though this was denied. The World of Love sounds to be a similar type of collection. The export flouted CITES regulations from every approach.

So assuming the Sriracha Tiger Zoo is continuing to breed Tigers....and they are, where are they all going? Are they all dying? Or is there a back door ajar somewhere?

Thirty plus Tigers died during the Bird Flu epidemic back in 2004 but that is hardly an ongoing problem and besides that was five years ago. I five years they must have bred hundreds of Tigers. Where are they now? There was a previous investigation surrounding reports of 'Tiger Parts' being for sale. If this was proved to be true it is likely to be still continuing but much more surreptitiously.


Education? NO

Conservation? NO

Research? NO

Enrichment? NO

This is a very poor zoo. It is amongst the worst I have ever visited. Sadly just because it is a bad zoo does not make it unpopular.

I don't doubt there are many people working there who really care for their charges but know no better.

I include a number of photographs. There are far more than I would normally take. The intention is to show you the place so you don't have to visit and support it.

Keep up to date with news and opinions on zoos by regular visits to Zoo News Digest

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Entrance to Sri Racha Tiger Zoo

The Days Events

Some Believe it

Tigress with one or her piglets in its tiger skin coat

Sow in Creep with Piglets and Tiger Cubs

So Cute

Really Cute

Lets build a statue to cuteness (stupidity)

Note the expert handling

I don't know who I feel most sorry for

Some not so new Sri Racha Tiger Zoo News

Scandal of zoo's 'missing' tigers

Zoo accused of breeding animals in appalling conditions for Chinese aphrodisiac trade

At Sriracha Tiger Zoo, just outside Bangkok, some 400 big cats snarl photogenically for the tourists, boy scouts queue at the petting zoo to cuddle placid tiger cubs which, bizarrely, have been suckled by sows, and at the circus arena on the zoo premises, tigers thrill crowds by bounding through rings of fire on cue.

At Sriracha Tiger Zoo, just outside Bangkok, some 400 big cats snarl photogenically for the tourists, boy scouts queue at the petting zoo to cuddle placid tiger cubs which, bizarrely, have been suckled by sows, and at the circus arena on the zoo premises, tigers thrill crowds by bounding through rings of fire on cue.

But, behind the happy scenes, questions are being asked about this zoo and the animals it breeds in such numbers: where do all the tigers go? And is a shipment of 100 live tigers to China the tip of an illicit trade that serves the demand for tiger meat and folk medicine or aphrodisiacs concocted from ground bones?

This week, one of the zoo's owners, Sommai Temsiripong, faces charges for breeding tigers without a permit. It may well prove to be the opening phase of the great Thailand tiger scandal.

Campaigners have already raised issues about Sriracha. Sarah Christie, of the Zoological Society of London, said: "The way in which tigers are kept and bred , with such unnaturally large social groupings, is completely alien and different to carnivore breeding management elsewhere."

Each of the Bengal tigresses on display can produce a dozen cubs a year for around 15 years. In tropical climes, most are perpetually on heat and because some tiger mothers routinely eat or abandon their offspring



Tigers suffer from bird flu

 Two Thai workers feed Bengali tigers with fresh pork at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi province, southeast of Bangkok, Thailand Friday, Oct. 22, 2004. Thai authorities may cull five more sick tigers at a private zoo suspected of having bird flu after 18 others were killed and another 42 died. Officials at this private zoo are first trying medical treatment to save the tigers, which became sick after


Campaign to save baby orangutan Naree!

At the beginning of December Monkey World - Apre Rescue centre in Dorset let its 15,000 members know of the plight of Naree...

...the baby orangutan whose jaw and head are so badly infected that if she does not receive a life-saving operation within the next month, she will die. They are now writing to the Thai Embassy letting them know that Naree should be released, the smuggled orangutans from Indonesia repatriated, and that they will not travel to Thailand unless the Thai Authorities follow up on these matters.

At the end of December 2003 Monkey World received a message from the Thai Embassy letting us know that Naree is still alive, but is very unwell, and the Thai vets are at a loss to do anything for her. The Embassy was going to try to follow up by making a request to Sriracha Tiger Zoo to release Naree for lifesaving operations in Britain. We are now waiting to hear. As of January 2004 Naree was still performing three shows per day at Sriracha Tiger Zoo.

During January 2004, Environment Minister, Elliot Morley requested an update on the situation in Thailand following


Tigers maul zoo worker in front of tourists

Six Bengal tigers mauled a zoo worker as she was feeding the animals in front of about 100 tourists, leaving the 18-year-old woman in intensive care at a hospital, it was reported today.

Uraiwan Sansern, who was not a qualified animal trainer, hit one of the tigers with a stick in an attempt to make it sit as part of a show for the visitors, The Nation newspaper reported.

The tiger attacked her and then other tigers joined in, the newspaper said. Other zoo workers drove away the tigers.

The incident happened yesterday in a glass enclosure



Crocodile Egg Breaking Festival

Crocodile Eggs for 'Breaking'.

Crocodile Egg Incubator

Crocodile Egg Breaking


Hatched Crocodile Eggs

Crocodile 'School'. Sick and Sad

Feed the Elephants...For a Price

Pretty Girl with Two Really Pissed Off Orangutans

Really Pissed Off!

Pretty Girl, The Scorpion Queen. More bothered about H1N1

Section of a very large Tiger Nursery

The 'Pig Race' Track

Elephant Museum

The Best Crocodile Pen

Another Crocodile Pen

And another Crocodile Pen

There were Tigers in every Nook and Cranny

There were few signs.

Another Crocodile Teasing Show of Zero Education Value

The Tiger Circus

Tiger, Pig and two Dogs (I think one Dog was the 'Mother'.

Several Green Iguanas mixed with Molorus and Reticulated Pythons

The fate of many Crocodiles in Sri Racha


Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on April 09, 2011:

Thank you Eiddwen. Sadly this awful place continues to flourish.

Eiddwen from Wales on April 09, 2011:

I have so many of your hubs that i need to catch up with. this one was brilliant and i push all the buttons as well as bookmark.

take care


Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 07, 2010:

quikxie - The easiest way would be to take a bus tour or book a taxi for the day. Cheaper but more complicated is to take an ordinary bus towards Pattaya and ask the driver to let you down at the turn off to the Tiger Zoo. You would be able to get transport from the gets a little bit more awkward getting back (though is more adventerous),

quikxie on May 07, 2010:

Hi Peter,

may i know how you get to sri racha zoo from bangkok?

Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on March 11, 2010:

Save the Apes - Thank you. The correction is appreciated and noted but best passed on to the newspaper from which the mention of Naree is an extraction. The real point of using the newspaper quote is to make mention of Sri Racha Zoos treatment of animals. Thanks again.

Save The Apes on March 11, 2010:

Naree is a chimpanzee not an orangutan

lisaclare on February 10, 2010:

can't beleive this place is still open, i went about 10 years ago, nothing has changed, they even had a brown bears playing basketball show back then (entertainment ?). the animals and the people who worked there looked like they'd been drugged, sick, sick place.

Dave on October 14, 2009:

Thanks for another interesting post Peter... It staggers belief that places like this are still in operation.. Just shows that the dollar/baht/pound or whatever still reigns over all... Very sad...

Mac Mission from bangalore on July 29, 2009:

This is really super... I didn't know this ..... I love to be a fan of you.....

Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on July 27, 2009:

dohn121 - If I had anything to do with it I would euthanase all the tigers. That may sound harsh and cruel but it isn't. Euthanasia doesn't hurt. The other animals would have to be assesssed individually. I am not against crocodile farm per se if properly managed. What I would not want to see happen is have the animals 'rescued' by some well meaning person or group who cannot get to grips with breeding programmes and conservation.

dohn121 from Hudson Valley, New York on July 27, 2009:

When I first saw this hub on your profile page, I thought it to be a positive article about a wonderful and fascinating place you recently visited. Boy was I wrong! This place is an absolute abomination! It's a lesson in animal cruelty, disenfranchisement and/or exploitation! That zoo screams of hostile takeover! Sadly, if for some reason the Zoo was closed down and NOT taken over by a new and much kinder proprietor, what would happen to all of the animals?

Marianne Kellow from SE Thailand on July 25, 2009:

OMG!! no wonder I don't like zoos (Marwell and Jersey being the exceptions)!! I had the misfortune to take some of our visitors to the similar crocodile set-up at the Million Year Old Stone Park and had similar feelings of revulsion about the state the poor animals were kept in.. Someone actually said that the animals used for the photographic shoots were drugged in order to keep them docile! (Bears and tigers).

The only way is education Peter and they are NOT going to get it here. Really, when you think logically about all of these issues, there is such an opportunity in the education world to do so much. Why are governments world-wide so apathetic towards any sort of programme? What is their problem?

Its got to be equally lucrative to educate people, especially kids, in the end surely!

I'm so glad you've written this & that I've read it. Yet feel so disheartened and sickened by it all.

Makes me feel so helpless when people like yourself with all your knowledge and experience are not listened to.

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