The Sriracha Tiger Zoo seems to elicit only two emotional reactions from its visitors: they either like it or they don’t. Because, while it has undoubtedly the largest collection of tigers in Thailand, the zoo’s poor treatment of the animals, including the small cages they provide for each, is viewed by others as nothing more than animal exploitation: an appalling way to lure tourists into the zoo.
The Sriracha Tiger Zoo has an impressive collection of over 200 Bengal tigers, more than 100, 000 crocodiles and several other kinds of animals. It is located about 30 minutes away from Pattaya, on a hundred acre piece of land. It hosts several animal shows daily and has few other animal attractions.
One attraction of the zoo that kids and their parents love is the “cub milk-feeding”. In a big room, with several cages in a row containing one baby tiger each, visitors are encouraged to feed the animals through the wire-mesh with milk in feeding bottles. A zoo attendant offers visitors milk in feeding bottles in exchange for a certain amount.
What caught the interest of many others though, and what troubles animal rights advocates, are the loud cries of the baby tigers that can be heard meters away from the room. When visitors start asking why, the attendant is quick to explain that the cubs are hungry and in need of feeding. Visitors are then offered milk bottles to feed the cubs, but for a price.
Some suspect that the baby tigers are deliberately starved so they’ll always cry for milk.
TAME OR SEDATED?
Some baby tigers are allowed to be touched, petted and cuddled by the visitors. Visitors can also have their photograph taken while holding a baby tiger. There are also adult tigers that are hyped as tame and you’ll see some of those inside the ring where the tiger show is done. Other tigers are curiously lying in the same cage as dogs and pigs and together they are tagged as “happy family”. Others are amazed but there are certain tourists who wonder if the wild tigers are actually drugged. This continues to be a subject of debate regarding the zoo.
FOR PICTURE’S SAKE
Everything has a price in the Sriracha Tiger Zoo. Taking pictures of tourists holding cubs and other animals is offered by the zoo attendants at a price. You will find attendants everywhere offering this service. It’s a nice experience even with the steep tag. However, some tourists have reported seeing animal handlers hitting baby cubs to force them out of their cages. The Orangutans that visitors can also have their picture taken with are also beaten by sticks by the keepers for the animals to follow orders.
Perhaps the only thing about the Sriracha Tiger Zoo that doesn’t seem to receive censure from visitors is the animal shows. They have pig racing, crocodile shows and tiger shows. The pig and the tigers are trained to follow orders, while the crocodiles are cleverly tricked by handlers to open their mouths wide to achieve a jaw lock. By the time the crocodile manages to unlock its jaw, the trainers would have gotten parts of their bodies in and out of its mouth already.
At the very least, the animal shows would be really worth your visit, but if you’re sensitive and don’t like seeing animals in cages, there are better attractions you can see than the Sriracha Tiger Zoo.