Have a look at the photo above. Does that look like an acceptable habitat for a gorilla? Fortunately for this gorilla, a 30-year campaign to free her from an old Bangkok mall has gained momentum with Thai authorities ruling that the gorilla must be released.
Bua Noi, the 26-year-old gorilla, has lived in her concrete home for the vast majority of her life. Kanit Sermsirimongkol, the “owner” of this zoo’s prized possession, says he opened the zoo 30 years ago because he loves animals.
“There is no regulation how big the cage should be for a monkey, a snake or a bird. There is no rules yet,” Mr. Sermsirimongkol said.
But Thai authorities have recognized that the high-rise zoo breaches guidelines, as well as common sense, about how gorillas and other large animals should live, and Bua Noi has been ordered to be removed by July. It will be a hard ruling to enforce.
On the same floor as the gorilla are hundreds of other animals, including orangutans, a cheeta, bears, and a baboon. Mr. Sermsirimongkol asserts that the animals were all well cared for.
Bua Noi’s mate, a silverback male, died 10 years ago, leaving Bua Noi, a member of a species just as social as we are, locked in a type of solitary confinement. Sinjira Apaithan has led the campaign to have the animal moved.
“I just felt so absolutely saddened by what I saw. We should have stopped this issue ages ago,” he said.
“It’s not the place for animals. So the main thing is education for Thai people, for Thai society, for a new generation to learn.” he added. “This is a lesson that we have to learn.”
Moving the gorilla comes with its own set of challenges. It’s possible for her to get an infection that her body isn’t used to if she’s moved to an enclosure with natural soil. It’s possible that the move would simply kill her. But her veterinarian hopes that she will someday be acclimated back into a group of gorillas so she doesn’t have to live on her own anymore.