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Dusit Zoo (Khao Din), Bangkok, Thailand
Dusit Zoo, 71 Rama V Road, Bangkok 10300, Thailand
Tel: 02 281 2000
Open 08.00 to 18.00 daily
We visited Dusit Zoo (Khao Din) in October 2007. A Thai government controlled zoological garden in the Dusit district of Bangkok, situated between the Chitrlada Palace and Dusit Palace / Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall compounds. Once a Royal garden of just less than 50 acres and first designated as a zoo in 1938 and re-opened to the public after WWII in 1954.
All the 'usual suspects' are there: elephants, big cats, apes, monkeys, souvenir shop and much more.
The zoo claims to attract around 2 million visitors a year but we would not recommend any westerners with any compassion or love for wildlife or animals in general to visit Dusit Zoo for a number of reasons.
We found the Dusit Zoo, Bangkok, to be an 'old style' zoo with many fairly basic, bare and inhumane enclosures, mostly packed earth or even worse concrete. Many of the animals were caged or enclosed in cramped or overcrowded conditions with little or no natural creature comforts or interactive equipment and some even showed advanced signs of stress (by pacing in a repetitive pattern) although in the main the animals looked clean and well fed. Glass fronted cases were generally grubby inside and out! On the other hand we could see efforts being made to improve some areas. Whether they would materialise into something better than what is here at present we can't comment.
The nocturnal house was a particularly badly maintained area without any living plants or shrubbery, for the 'inmates' to feel at home in, just bare lumber and rocks! The walkway and glass was particularly dirty on our side too! (Are the staff afraid of the dark?)
There were no signs of any breeding programmes at Dusit Zoo, which we could see or find, for the proliferation of endangered species and some of the 'exhibits' were obviously there on display as crowd pulling 'freaks' like the albino barking deer and white tigers so proudly displayed in the complimentary brochure.
There were too many new construction engineering projects underway mostly for the benefit of patrons, not the animals. The infrastructure of walkways and paths are tatty and in places broken down and dirty. The toilet facilities are not to a modern standard of (western) acceptability for hygiene or cleanliness and no toilet paper or hand-drying method in either of the two units we visited.
The Thai Government has decided to operate dual (discriminatory) standards of pricing for entry (as many tourist attractions are permitted do in Thailand). Thai nationals pay about a third of the price that 'Farangs' (foreigners) are required to pay (100 Bht per adult - 2007), with supplementary charges to enter the Zoo Museum (20 Bht - 2007) and side shows like the [brilliant] 'Hello Africa' show (20 Bht - 2007) in the main pavilion, by the U-Thong Entrance and the Animal [Entertainment?] Presentations (20 Bht - 2007) in an auditorium (opposite the reptile house).
This was not a case of 'cup half full / cup half empty' it is a case of 'heart fully broken'. The animals here at Dusit Zoo are surviving, in spite of, not because of, their environment. We were captivated by the resilience of the animals and found a new favourite in the Red Panda which is the most adorable of creatures enduring a life sentence there.
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