Consider the magnificent King of the Jungle with his swinging mane stalking proudly through the savannah under the baking African sun. Now consider the same beast confined to a small cage under the heat of the halogen lights of a department store in central Bangkok. Something’s wrong here, surely. The distress of the beast is palpable – alongside that of a white tiger similarly incarcerated and that of the baby elephant made to spend the day walking in circles under the spotlights.

Even worse is the state of a Rusa deer – a notoriously sensitive species. Then there’s the barn owl whose deep, wide eyes are forced to endure the ceaseless flashes from visitors’ cameras.

And let’s not forget the meercat, lemurs, ostrich and bat-eared fox …

The department store – Emporium (let’s name and shame) – is one of the top stores in Thailand. The lesson they seem to preach is that it’s OK to do anything whatsoever to defenceless animals in the pursuit of profit.

Worse still is the involvement of various other organisation that one might have though would have the better interests of the animals at heart: the Zoological Park Organisation (ZPO), the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, and the Chiang Mai Night Safari.

(Actually, the involvement of the Chiang Mai Night Safari doesn’t surprise me muchly. This night zoo was set up at the behest of former Prime Minister Thaksin in his home constituency purely to bring in more tourist dollars. Since its opening a little while back several hundred animals have died because of serious failings in their care.)

The chief of the ZPO is on record as saying “they will only be [at the shopping mall] for 10 days, not forever”.

So that’s OK then. Eleven days of torture bad, ten days of torture good.


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