Thailand Slowly Embraces Animal Rights: An Overview

by Admin on September 2, 2015

Thailand’s varied attitudes to animal rights is confusing to tourists, however, things are moving slowly in the right direction, reports Business Insider.

On the one hand, there are the strong Buddhist values reflected in the multitude of temples devoted to caring for stray animals, and the pampered pooches and Bangkok’s sudden predilection for pet cafes.

On the other, there cock and bull fights and dog meat kebabs.

Then there are spectacles such as the daily show at Safari World on the outskirts of Bangkok, (video below) where orangutans have been trained to parody human behavior, dressed in a variety of apparently amusing outfits including bikini’s and superhero gear, performing to a cackling audience.

Such a show has drawn mixed reviews.

Sri Lankan tourist Aisha, 23, says of the show: “It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen […] It’s incredible what they’re capable of.”

In contrast, American tourist Erwin Newton, 30, said: “I don’t like it at all […] I don’t understand, what is interesting in making animals behave in this violent, dirty way.”

But there are signs that Thailand’s views on animal rights are changing.

Anthropologist Suddan Wisudthiluck argues that the Thai people are becoming more animal friendly, in part because more people keep pets now, especially in the cities. He said:

“Animals are more and more seen as friends or family members.”

NGO Lawyers in Thailand Chaninat and Leeds are experts in foundation registration in Thailand.

Late 2014 saw the first ever animal welfare law introduced, after years of campaigning from animal rights groups.
The law bans “torture and cruelty towards animals” with exemptions for activities that are part of the country’s traditions.

Cock fighting now frequently means the birds have their talons wrapped in fabric, to prevent any real harm being done. If this still seems cruel, consider in contrast similar fights in the Philippines, where the cocks may have blades attached to their feet.

Chaichan Laohasiripanya, Secretary-General of the Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says: “Even in animal fights, there must be rules […] They must consider the health of the animal, the length of the fight.”

Image Credit: Tore Bustard (Flickr)
Image Credit: Tore Bustard (Flickr)

One can’t discuss animal welfare in Thailand without mentioning elephants. Long been a popular feature in the tourist landscape, animal rights activists are repeatedly arguing that they are overworked in their roles of giving rides to tourists.

Just a week ago, it was reported that a stressed elephant in Chiang Mai fatally attacked his mahout and fled into the jungle with a Chinese family on his back.

Kanchanaburi’s Tiger Temple has also found its fair share of controversy, with authorities claiming almost 150 tigers are kept there illegally. Although attempts have been made to seize them, religious respect apparently stops action being followed through (the temple is run by monks). On top of this, officials relent that they have nowhere else to put so many tigers.

Wildlife Friends of Thailand campaigner, Edwin Wiek, says that animal rights in Thailand seems to take one step forward, one step back., and that law enforcement is the greatest challenge in the journey towards better animal welfare. He says, some people “just care about money and don’t hesitate to use (animals) to make some.”

He concludes:

“But I think most Thai people love their animals.”

For the full story, see here.

Check out the Safari World show here:

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