As it turns out, I was supposed to go repelling on my last day in Thailand before heading back to Bangkok to catch my flight back to Japan and due to an unforeseen circumstance, that didn’t work out. What I opted for second was to go to the tiger zoo. There happens to be two tiger zoo’s in Thailand that I know of and the other one near Bangkok is in Kichinaburi which is where the Bridge Over the River Kwai is.
To fill my day before heading back to catch my flight I decided to go to the Sriracha Tiger Zoo about 30 minutes away from Pattaya. Going to this tiger zoo was eye-opening for different reasons. One of the reasons is because it was a complete and utter tourist trap. Within a few minutes I couldn’t help but be reminded of the song “Master of the House” from Les Miserables when the two crooks walk around their inn and steal from all of their guests and charge them for everything. An excerpt:
“Charge ’em for the lice, extra for the mice
Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
Here a little slice, there a little cut
Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
When it comes to fixing prices
There are a lot of tricks I knows
How it all increases, all them bits and pieces
Jesus! It’s amazing how it grows!”
That’s how I felt from the moment I arrived at this zoo till I left and I didn’t like it. They guy who drove us there was in cahoots with the place and expected us to get pictures with all kinds of things which were 100BAHT each. Then he led us around from station to station and tried to get us to buy raw meat on a stick to feed the tigers, bananas to feed the elephants, milk to feed the fish… la… da…la…da…la…da. It just didn’t end. It costed money to do EVERYTHING there. I’m surprised you didn’t have to pay to walk from one side of the park to the other. Bringing your kids to the park would turn into an expensive day pretty quick.
Now the tigers were in different pens, but the habitats were slabs of cement without any greenery at all. I silently watched them, stalking back and forth, crammed inside of their small cages, and I knew that these animals had lost their prowling, hunting, fiery instinct. All I wanted to do was release them back into the wild.
There were 3 shows through the afternoon a Tiger show, a Crocodile show, and an Elephant show: Here are some of the highlights.
I was surprised that they had 8 tigers in a pen with the tiger tamer. I just felt like 8 tigers could gang up on one man and pretty easily eat him, but they didn’t do that and at times they were even funny. I have to admit they were pretty impressive. They walked across a type rope, sat on stools, jumped through a ring of fire, I wonder how they learn all of these tricks? Of course they expected tips at the end of each show, which I declined to give.
Walking around I saw this woman with scorpions all over her and that was just outrageous. Scorpions for me are an absolutely positively NOT, not even for 2 million dollars, not even if the world was ending and I had any chance to live, sort of deal, so there was no way I was going to get a picture with her, but don’t worry she expected money too, even if you took a picture with your own camera.
I did decide to take a picture with this tiger, but it was a little scary. When I sat down behind him he started growling, maybe he didn’t like my scent, but I got in and got out real quick. This picture was taken on my own camera and yes I had to pay to get it. Then they printed out pictures from their own cameras as well and tried to force me to buy them. I declined.
The two performers seemed very young and the boy was extremely skittish. It seemed like he had just started working with crocodiles and to be completely honest the entire time the show was happening I felt like he was going to get into some bad trouble with one of the crocs. It was making me extremely nervous to the point where I almost had to shut my eyes a couple of times.
Finally, we went to see the elephants perform and they were by far the most comical and seemed the most happy. They performed all kinds of tricks I hadn’t expected and it seemed like they actually enjoyed performing.
Overall I did see tigers, elephants, crocodiles, camels, pigs, and a few other animals not mentioned above but I was saddened for the animals. I didn’t feel that they were being treated poorly but their habitats were very small and restrictive and I felt like they needed to be bigger with some dirt and trees in them. It’s never a good thing to take the fight out of a tiger.
This article appeared first on Dynamic Soarer.