Thailand: Campaign to free gorilla from high-rise zoo
Officials in Bangkok have agreed to meet activists campaigning for the release of a female gorilla which has been on display in a department store's zoo since 1987, it's reported.
The campaign to re-house Bua Noi (Little Lotus) from the zoo on the top two floors of Bangkok's Pata department store has more than 35,000 signatures and has resulted in the director of the country's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) agreeing to speak to activists about the case, the Bangkok Post reports. Sinjira Apaitan, who organised the petition, told the paper: "I don't think animals should be locked up in such unnatural habitat. I hope to help all other animals being held captive in this high-rise zoo as well." Speaking to Bangkok's Nation newspaper Sinjira hopes that the zoo, which has been criticised for its cramped conditions in the world's media for several years, would lose its licence.
A BBC journalist who has visited the Pata Zoo says the cages are small, concrete and some of the hundreds of animals were clearly suffering mental effects from their confinement. In defence of the attraction, zoo director Kanit Sermsirimongkol tells the Bangkok Post that "Bua Noi is very valuable to our zoo and we would not do anything to harm her in any way." Activists concede that it is probably too late for Bua Noi to live in the wild, but she could probably be housed in an open zoo instead.
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