Agony and Ecstasy as Thailand Moves Towards Better Animal Welfare
Better animal welfare in Thailand for domestic, farm and animals working in tourism has taken a step closer following the publication of a new law by the government.
The Animal Welfare Bill for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was published in the country’s Royal Gazette this week, following years of campaigning by animal welfare groups in the country. However, while many are celebrating what is a momentous move, others are concerned that the new law will be toothless as it doesn’t include enough detail to be effective.
According to the Care for Dogs Foundation, the main points of the Bill included:
- To decide the definition of ‘animals’, ‘ill treatment’, ‘animal welfare’, and ‘animal welfare organization’
- To regulate the measures prohibiting the act of cruelty which creates unnecessary suffering to animals
- To stipulate the duties of persons responsible for animals to ensure suitable welfare including way of transport animals to work or to perform a show, and to stop animal abandoning.
While the Bill has been praised and welcomed by many, others have raised concerns that it doesn’t go far enough. In a report in the Strait Times, Kiatiyos Lohanan, founder of Thai Animal Guardians Association, said: “It’s like a law that tells people you cannot drive too fast, but doesn’t tell people what is too fast. We would have to wait for the harm to happen before taking action.”
A petition with over 60,000 signatures has apparently already been submitted asking for the Bill to be more specific.
Chris Pitt, Campaigns Manager for Care for the Wild, which runs the RIGHT-tourism.org campaign helping animals in tourism, said:
“There’s a real agony and ecstacy around this law. As we know in the UK, it takes a long time for laws to be put in place to protect animals, so those people involved in getting the law to this stage deserve immense praise. As ever though, the Devil will be in the detail, and it would be a huge disappointment for everyone if the law that emerges is toothless and ineffective.
“There are a huge number of animal welfare issues in Thailand, but with our focus on animals in tourism, we see the young elephants being crushed into submission so they can take part in elephant treks, we see the slow lorises dragged from the jungle so they can be photographed in Phuket, and we see the tigers chained and kept in cramped cages so they can be sat on by tourists. There is building interest and concern about these animals from tourists and tour operators, not just from the UK, so if the Thai government can really step up and protect the animals, then it can only do wonders for their tourism industry.”
The RIGHT-tourism.org campaign recently launched Zoo Review, which puts zoos and animal attractions under the microscope. The first ten Zoo Reviews focussed on Thai zoos, which ranged from Best in Class to Unacceptable.
RIGHT-tourism’s No Photos, Please! campaign, to persuade tourists to stop having photographs taken with wild animals in tourist resorts, has recently launched in Thailand.