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Wildlife Alliance says zoo's training is cruel

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Asian elephants Kiri (left) and Seila (right) bathe and eat in their enclosure at Kampot’s Teuk Chhou Zoo. Vireak Mai

Wildlife Alliance says zoo's training is cruel

A wildlife conservation organisation has called animal training methods at Phnom Penh’s largest zoo cruel.

Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Programmes Director Nick Marx told The Post on Sunday that the Kingdom’s rare wild animals, such as tigers, elephants, bantengs, gaurs, Eld's deer, monkeys and other birds were facing extinction and needed protection.

He said the elephants which were brought in by local communities and private zoos were brutally beaten while training to do tricks to entertain and obtain money from visitors.

Their actions, he said, contradict conservation measures put forth by the Forestry Administration and partner organisations.

“The new zoo in Phnom Penh is like a circus. Circus training methods used for animals are usually cruel. Animals here are used for entertainment. It has nothing to do with conservation or animal welfare,” Marx stressed.

A Safari World management and animal care employee who wishes to remain anonymous said on Sunday that the elephants were brought from Ratanakkiri and Koh Kong.

He claimed that two elephants, Kiri and Seila, were from Cambodia's National Committee for Disaster Management vice-president Nhim Vanda’s private zoo in Kampot. They are wild, despite being domesticated. They need to be trained to avoid accidents to visitors.

“Animal training is not easy, especially with elephants. If they are not beaten and tamed, we cannot change their behaviour. If they cannot be controlled, how can we provide visitors with safety? We want to create movements for people to understand animals through being near [them]."

“Owners of other zoos should follow the programmes used in the national zoo and Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre [of planting] trees in natural wildlife sanctuaries, as opposed to putting animals in cages, [depriving them] of food and other things and brutally beating [them],” he said.

He said Nhim Vanda’s private Kampot zoo will not be able to operate much longer due to the lack of food for the animals and low turnout of visitors.

Kampot zoo animal caretaker Bun Prasna said big animals such as tigers, elephants and red muntjacs were taken to new locations in Prey Veng province or transferred to Safari World.

“We have only [a little] more than 10 types of animals at our zoo in Kampot province, which includes two sun bears, deer and some birds,” said Prasna.

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