“Don’t ‘jail’ animals” by Dr. Shirley McGreal, founder of the International Primate Protection League

Re: “Gorilla in the mist”, (Life, Feb 3).

As a former resident of Bangkok as part of a United Nations family (1971-75) and return visitor, I would like to comment on the ongoing problems with the “zoo” at the Pata Department Store.

The zoo is located on the 6th and 7th floors of a noisy department store. The animals at Pata have been maintained in wretched conditions. They have included highly endangered douc langurs, legally protected gibbons, chimpanzees, and many more birds and mammals.

Sadly, the location became a death trap for the animals. On 5 May 1992 there was a fire that killed every one of the 100+ animals on the sixth floor. The animals on the 7th floor somehow survived. There was no way to evacuate any animals. At that time (5 May) 1992, your excellent newspaper ran a hard-hitting editorial “Stop Death Cages Being Filled Again.” Here’s an extract, “It is against Lord Buddha’s teachings to forcefully detain animals and to inflict on hem a slow death, just as it is to do so to humans. But apparently, the management of the department store seems more concerned with cashing in on the plight of the poor animals. The decision to reopen the zoo next month is…appalling.” Sadly, the cages were quickly filled. The drama continues.

I appeal to concerned people to support efforts to get this zoo closed down and the animals be sent to wonderful facilities in the countryside. I founded the International Primate Protection in 1973 while living in Bangkok and we grew and grew.

In 2008 I was honored to receive the Order of the British Empire from the hands of Queen Elizabeth