thai zoo orangutan



The shocking conditions for orangutans in Thai zoos are revealed by a new investigation by animal protection nonprofit Lady Freethinker (LFT) in collaboration with renowned photojournalist Aaron Gekoski. The animals are forced to participate in “orangutan boxing” matches and other shows, eat trash, and bite and cling to the metal cage bars of their small enclosures.

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Image: Lady Freethinker/Instagram

In September 2023, Lady Freethinker‘s investigator visited five zoos in Thailand and discovered deplorable, subpar conditions in each. 

The proof demonstrates:

  • Orangutans in desolate, dirty enclosures strewn with trash.
  • In their concrete enclosures, animals lie motionless on the ground.
  • An orangutan named Tanja was yelled at by one handler, who also roughly handled her by pulling her into position, tugging on her arms, and chaining her.
  • There was a bag of potato chips offered to an orangutan.
  • Tourists force orangutans to pose for “selfies,” which often involve them groping for their groins and breasts.
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“Orangutans deserve better than to be forced to perform and pose for the amusement of humans,” said Nina Jackel, founder and president of Lady Freethinker. “We’re calling on officials in Thailand to take a strong stand against cruelty by banning forced selfies with these intelligent animals and by ending all wild animal performances immediately.”

A primate expert reviewed LFT’s footage and commented on the animals’ suffering:

“There is no doubt that these orangutans in Thailand are suffering physically and psychologically from being kept under such unnatural and poor conditions, and being forced to ‘perform’ for humans,” said Nedim C Buyukmihci, V.M.D., co-founder & veterinary advisor of Action for Primates. “This is a sad indictment of the inhumanity of people towards these critically endangered great apes.”

In addition, Lady Freethinker is starting a petition to put an end to the abuse of orangutans in Thailand and to discourage people from ever going to a place that uses animals for “entertainment” or profit.