Dear mr. Pichai Sakunsorn,
This letter is addressed to you but is also meant for the owner(s) of the Phuket Zoo.
Times are changing. In an era where climate change, desertification, plastic soups and loss of biodiversity are getting more headlines in newspapers than poverty and education, it seems a big mistake not to listen to what the world has to say.
Zoos, petting places and other venues where tigers are exploited, are more and more subjected to investigations, public inquiries and public harassment, getting more bad press in the media every day. The reason for this is explained in the opening of this letter: the tiger is a flagship species of biodiversity, and it’s getting more headlines than ever because the morality of the public on this subject is shifting. Shifting from people benefits to tiger benefits.
Zoos have been part of different human cultures for ages. We often forget that zoos started as educational institutions: to teach people about flowers and animals. However, due to many reasons, zoos became places of entertainment, abandoning their role as educators.
It is still possible to exploit animals, and even mistreat them, as we can see every day through new photographs and videos shared on the Internet. But an ever-increasing moral awareness on how to behave with animals and the expanded possibilities to expose cruel situations – even in your park – have led to the situation that even the biggest and best-equipped zoos in the world are under scrutiny from not only animal rights activists but from ordinary people as well.
More and more people no longer want to see animals caged or mistreated. They don’t want animals in shows anymore. They don’t want people to take selfies with tigers or other wild animals. They don’t want underfed animals. They don’t want animals in small cages or in chains. They want to see them in the wild. Properly cared for and protected against humans that want to kill them. And people demand transparency.
At the moment you are still able to earn money with the exploitation of your venture with tigers. Your company however is facing problems, and you know it well. You’re facing a big challenge because it is getting harder to attract visitors to your park. This is why you’re not only exploiting animals in cages but you are also doing things like petting-sessions for selfies, circus-like activities or even games with animals.
You are even using conservation as an excuse.
Due to the earlier mentioned changing awareness of people in the world – and, therefore, your visitors – your business model is at the end of its lifespan. Like circuses in Europe that can’t show wild animals anymore, which led to the bankruptcy of multiple circus companies because they couldn’t adopt to a shifting mentality of customers.
You know you can’t withstand this trend very much longer – also because the increasing petting of (mainly) tigers will unavoidably lead to (high) claims from foreigners that get a scratch – or even worse. Your liability waivers will not help you anymore because the best lawyers in the world will defend people that have been hurt or attacked by animals in your park.