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Thailand’s Animal Kingdom

The title probably conjures up images of wild beasts roaming the jungle but in reality I’m talking about tame animals walking the streets of Bangkok or visiting the bars of Pattaya. Thailand is just one big petting zoo and you are just around the corner from your next animal experience.

No matter if you are going to the gardens for a day trip or visiting the Wat’s, beaches, or bars there is always an exotic animal around for you to take a picture with. On my first trip to Bangkok I was minding my own business sitting at an outside beer bar when I felt something grab my crotch, to my surprise it was a baby elephant accosting bar patrons for some coins. You pay the handler a few baht and he gives you banana’s to feed the elephant. The keeper was happy, the elephant was happy, and I got my first experience of the animal kind in Bangkok.

The animal street hawkers will walk through the busy tourist area’s with all manner of beasts from snakes to monkeys for you to feed, pet, and hopefully take a picture with…there is always someone close with a camera for a price. Aside from the street hawkers it seems every attraction Thailand has to offer from gardens to Temples have at least a few exotic animals around for the tourists to pet and take pictures with.

At some of the attractions the animals are well looked after and are very happy to be fed and petted but more than a few places I went to were basically using the animals just for whatever extra they could get out of it and it showed. It was more than obvious in the bad places that the animals were heavily drugged to keep them pliant and ready for the tourists.

The decent attractions that kept animals were a lot of fun. The animals were playing with us and were very happy to get fed by us. Tiger cubs and elephants are abundant everywhere but you can also feed and pet crocodiles, birds, orangutans and many other animals you wouldn’t normally come into contact with.

I tend to steer clear of the street hawkers with animals now and when I see animals at an attraction that look drugged I don’t even bother. The quality of life some of the animals have is obviously not good in these places. It’s really cool to be able to hold a tiger cub or get a kiss from a beautiful dolphin…even getting groped by a baby elephant, but the experience wears thin when you realize that the animal is being used to part you from your tourist dollars.

Many more pictures of beautiful animals can be seen in the gallery Thailands Animal Kingdom.

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Comment by ChrisNo Gravatar
2008-09-30 05:22:56

Wow, it must be really fun to be able to get so up and close to the animals like that. Reminds me of the streets of India. See a lot of animals just walking around from really big to really small (rodents…ahh!)

Chriss last blog post..Lost In Translation (9/27)

Comment by CaroleNo Gravatar
2008-09-30 13:14:45

I had no idea of how people would use animals like that to make money, especially on the streets. Fascinating, but sad.
Really interesting blog you have here, btw - keep up the great work, love all the pictures! :-)
Caroles last blog post..What You Get When You Give a 9 Year Old Girl Your Camera

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2008-09-30 13:40:59

Carole, Thanks for the kind words.

The animals are bad enough but there are those that hawk their children around too. They will bring a crying baby up to you so you feel bad and give them money…sometimes the baby doesn’t even belong to them.

They also get their cute kids to run around selling gum and light sticks.

Comment by steffNo Gravatar
2008-10-10 06:51:09

I agree it is not nice to see…but to clear up a few things. the “crying babies” are often illegal immigrants that resort to begging to survive. The “bubblegum and light sticks kids” are part of a group that most of the kids parents live up-country or cambodia and they are looked after by a relative usually about 10 kids to a ring very seldom their parents are present.

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Comment by BrianNo Gravatar
2008-09-30 23:50:26

Other than the elephants you mentioned I havn’t seen any other animals being touted in Bangkok. Phuket on the other hand is a traveling zoo.

Everything from snakes, sea eagles and lizards are often seen in the bars there. I have seen primates in the past as well but these are rare as even some Thai people disagree with this type of trade and don’t allow them in the bars.

Brians last blog post..New Scuba Diving Holidays to Thailand

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2008-10-01 10:43:02

Other than baby elephants I’ve seen a couple of orangutans and one huge ass lizard being touted in Bangkok. Last time I was in Bangkok though I didn’t even see an elephant.

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