Stop Australian animals going to deadly Thai zoo
Urgent letters are needed to Australia's Federal Environment Minister to stop Australian animals being exported to a new zoo in Thailand where 104 animals are reported to have died.
HSI has learned that Taronga and Melbourne Zoos have sought permit applications to export Australian animals to the Chang Mai Safari Park. It is part of a deal between the Thailand Government and Melbourne and Taronga zoos over the import of eight Asian elephants to the two Australian zoos. The Memorandum of Agreement for the elephant exports indicates that koalas and possums will be the animals exported to Thailand as part of the Agreement. Correspondence HSI has had access to indicates 40 Australian animals may be involved from 8 species.
Prior to the reports of the mass deaths at Chang Mai Safari Park, the zoo was already dogged by controversy. The Chang Mai Safari Park director had initially planned for species such as tiger, giraffe, lions, kangaroos and elephants to be on the menu at a restaurant at the Park - at least this outrageous idea has been withdrawn after an international outcry. However, the Chang Mai Safari Park is still seeking to stock the Park with over a 100 animals taken from the wild in Kenya to loud protests from Kenyan and international conservationists. And if all this is not enough to convince the Minister the Safari Park is not the place to be sending Australian animals, the Director of the Safari Park has previously been investigated in relation to the illegal export of 100 tigers from Thailand to China with a Thai Government panel recommending disciplinary action.
HSI, IFAW and the RSPCA have already brought a court case to try to stop the eight elephants leaving Thailand for import to the Australian zoos. We did this because zoo elephants can suffer serious health problems and because there were concerns that not all of the elephants were captive bred. Unfortunately, the elephant imports are set to go ahead.
However, irrespective of any deal over the elephant imports, Senator Campbell should refuse to issue an export permit to send Australian animals to an uncertain fate. Local conservationists are corroborating the newspaper reports that deaths are occurring at the Chang Mai Safari Park due to poor standards of care. The exports of koalas and possums to Thailand would serve no conservation purpose whatsoever and would place the health and welfare of the animals in serious jeopardy.
Chang Mai Safari Park is a pet project of the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and therefore lots of letters from the Australian public may be required to urge Senator Campbell to put diplomacy aside and refuse the export permits.
HSI has been unable to get precise details over the species and numbers of animals Taronga and Melbourne Zoos wish to export to the Chang Mai Safari Park. The Department of Environment has insisted that we submit a Freedom of Information application for copies of the permit applications. Unfortunately, this is typical of the resistance to public scrutiny over zoo imports and exports.
Please write a polite letter to Senator Ian Campbell, federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600, fax 02 62 73 6101 or email email@example.com and ask that he refuse to issue an export permit for Australian animals to be sent to this disreputable zoo. Send copies of any replies to HSI.
Please also write to the Directors of Taronga and Melbourne Zoos urging them to rethink the deal over the elephants, koalas and possums and instead keep all the animals in their home countries.
Mr Guy Cooper
Director and CEO
PO Box 20
Mosman NSW 2088
Ms Laura Mumaw