Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi province has announced that will was close down permanently, 24 years since it opened.

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The management will hold a meeting with employees next Monday to explain the reasons for going out of business as well as discuss other issues, said Wasan Temsiriphong, the zoo’s managing director.

Wasan added that the main reason behind the zoo’s closing was the current economic situation and the third wave of Covid-19 that had affected the zoo’s revenue.

Located in Nong Kham subdistrict, it opened its doors on April 23, 1997. The 250-rai tiger zoo became famous as the largest facility in the world that bred and raised Bengal tigers. The zoo also featured talent shows of many animals besides tigers, such as crocodiles, elephants and pigs. There were also exhibition zones for camels, spotted deer, rabbits and more.

The zoo has a history of controversy and in the past two Brits captured video footage of tiger cubs in minute cages and adults chained up and being forced to roar for photos.  According to Dr Schmidt-Burbach, a vet and wildlife expert who works for non-profit World Animal Protection, the zoo has been  in the business of ‘speed-breeding’, during which the baby tigers are ‘forcibly removed’ from their mother and placed in small cages so that tourists can bottle feed them.

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For 200 baht, visitors to the park could hold the tiger and give it milk for a few moments as their photo is taken, before they are required to move on and the cub is passed to the next in line.

Apart from the reasons offered by management, media coverage and conservation groups pressure related to the unacceptable exploitation of wildlife as tourist attrations, is also likely to be a factor for the closure.

To date no information has been made available about the future of the animals housed at the zoo.