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25 September 2006 - Australia urged to follow Kenyan lead and not send animals to deadly Thai Zoo       

Australia urged to follow Kenyan lead and not send animals to deadly Thai Zoo

Sydney, 25 September 2006                                                
                                                                                                        

The ousting of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during last week’s military coup has prompted calls for Australia to follow Kenya’s lead and stop the export of our native animals to the Chiang Mai Night Safari Park.

Hundreds of animals were to be taken from the wild in Kenya and exported to the Thai zoo. However, the political developments of the past week have prompted an official in the Kenyan Government to declare the proposal dead. “It is vitally important that Australia act in the best interests of our native wildlife and also call off all exports of Australian animals to Thailand”, said Nicola Beynon, HSI Wildlife and Habitat Program Manager.

Concerns were raised over exporting animals from Australia’s Taronga and Melbourne zoos to Chiang Mai Night Safari Park after reports that 104 animals had died in this controversial theme park over a three month period earlier this year. Nevertheless, the Australian government has still been considering issuing a permit for the export of 40 animals from 8 species, including koalas, wallabies, dingos and possums, based on a deal between the zoos, the NSW and Victorian governments and the Thai government over the import of 8 Asian elephants to Taronga and Melbourne Zoos.

The Chiang Mai Night Safari Park also fell into controversy when its Director, who has formally been investigated for allowing an illegal trade in tigers, suggested that endangered species would be on the menu at a restaurant at the theme park.

“As there is already serious concern over the welfare of animals at the Chiang Mai Night Safari Park, the current climate of political unrest in Thailand makes it even more important that animals from Taronga and Melbourne zoos are not permitted to be exported”, said Ms Beynon.

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, Australia’s Federal Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, cannot issue an export permit to send Australian animals to an overseas facility that is not suitably equipped to care for the animals and to meet their specific behavioural and biological needs. Given the record of fatalities at this facility, and the fact that the Chiang Mai Night Safari Park was created as the pet project of the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose administration is currently being investigated for corruption, there are serious concerns over the future of this facility and the animals in its care.

We ask that Senator Ian Campbell announce a final decision to refuse the export permits.





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