Samui Aquarium Tiger Zoo Ko Samui Thailand Zoo Review

Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo, Ko Samui, Thailand – Zoo Review

The RIGHT-tourism Zoo Review is a quick but informed guide to the quality of places where the public can see animals, including zoos, dolphinariums and other attractions.

We’ve used a range of measures, taken from information available online, to judge how well the animals at the particular zoo or animal attraction are looked after. More than just a ‘review’, the results are actually a Quality Index which will allow tourists and the attractions themselves to judge how well the attractions are performing.

Please note, the information we use is taken from what we assume to be genuine and factually correct comments from reviews, blogs and news stories. If there are factual inaccuracies, please let us know and we will make the relevant changes.

RIGHT-tourism Zoo Review Rating for: Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo, Ko Samui, Thailand

Zoo_Review_Stamp_Poor

Summary

Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo is one of many such attractions around South East Asia that are becoming part of the “back-packer experience”.

In countries where money and infrastructure are greatly lacking, in comparison to western, developed countries, welfare of animals can sometimes appear to be lacking. It can be tempting to regard zoos and animal attractions in developing countries as a convenient way for locals to make money and that the animals’ rights are less important than the right of people to use tourism to improve their lives.

Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo appears to be such a place. First brought to the attention of Care for the Wild by a worried tourist that had visited the zoo, it has mixed reviews on Tripadvisor and little other information. A quick Google search reveals many tourist sites advertising them as “fun for all the family”, but a detailed look at Tripadvisor reveals inappropriate housing, “circus-style” animal shows, drugged animals and money making photo interactions with tigers, birds and sea-lions.

The welfare of the animals here appears secondary to making money and entertaining the visitors. No education, conservation or reintroductions are performed by the zoo in direct contradiction of the principles of “ethical zoos”. The relatively high score is more indicative of lack of internet exposure than positive aspects of the animals welfare.

 

Report Card

Section One: Social Media and News

This section looks at how the attraction is rated by people on key reviewing sites, and in blogs/the media. The reviews are often not concerned with animal welfare, so this section has a lower influence on the overall mark than other sections. However, it is an important measure of the way the attraction is viewed by visitors.

Number of negative TripAdvisor reviews

For the most recent 20 reviews which appear on the official TripAdvisor page for the attraction, how many mention animal welfare in a negative way. The score is worked out as a percentage (see method below).

Number of negative reviews:  9/20

Score: 1.5 Points

Many negative reviews talk about the small, dirty cages and drug induced tigers.

Only 4/20 reviews with positive information about the animals and only saying that the animals look healthy.

Some neutral reviews do also talk about the run down nature of the zoo, without making any direct references to the animals. Some also state that a run down zoo or poor conditions for animals is acceptable as it’s in SE Asia and we should apply western ideals to other people. I do not believe that animal welfare is a “western ideal” but an immutable right.

Number of negative Google reviews

For the most recent 20 reviews which appear on the Google search page for the attraction, how many mention animal welfare in a negative way. The score is worked out as a percentage (see method below).

Number of negative reviews:  0/0

Score: 1.5 Points

There are no Google reviews so I have used the previous score as a retainer for this category.

Number of negative news articles and blogs
For the most recent 10 independent blogs or news articles for the attraction, how many mention animal welfare in a negative way. The score is worked out as a percentage (see method below).

Number of negative mentions:  0/0

Score: 2.5 points

Have given the zoo an “Average” rating for this category as once again there are no articles or blogs that address this zoo.

Total Score for Social Media and News Section:  5.5/10

 

Section Two: General Quality of Life

This section looks generally at how the animals, as a whole, appear to be treated. It is based on the internationally recognised Five Freedoms, which focus on key aspects of animal welfare including feeding, housing, health, behaviour and protection from fear/distress.

Each item is scored as either two points for a Yes, zero points for a No or one point for Possibly. (The Possibly category also includes situations where the answer would be Sometimes; or if the answer is unknown).

Absence of prolonged hunger and/or thirst

Score: Yes   2 Points

Mention of water present and no mention of skinny animals

Being fed an appropriate diet based on their wild diet

Score: Possibly   1 Point

Ease of movement within living quarters

Score: No   0 Points

Many comments about small cages

Enrichment in living quarters (eg climbing frame, toys etc)

Score: No   0 Points

Many comments about empty and bare cages

Absence of injuries or disease

Score: Possibly  1 Point

No mention of injuries and nothing visible in photos, but some concerns due to the number of general negative comments.

Absence of pain (eg being not being chained, or not being hit by staff)

Score: No   0 Points

Mention of keepers with sticks.

Ability to express natural and social behaviours in living quarters

Score: No   0 Points

No way to express natural behaviours in undersized cages. Tigers, leopards, birds and sea lion made to perform in unnatural shows

Good human-animal relationship with staff

Score: Possibly   1 Point

Some reports of tigers being “told what to do by a small guy waving a chop stick” and others that staff “showed a genuine care for the animals”

Absence of general fear/distress/apathy

Score: No   0 Points

Comments about animals pacing cages and birds trying to escape their cage

Ability to seek privacy/refuge from humans and other animals

Score: Possibly  1 Point

No mention of privacy for animals, but a mention of animals “cooling off in water” in high temperatures can constitute refuge

Total Score for General Quality of Life:  6/20

 

Section Three: Interaction with the Public

This section focusses on the way the attraction allows the public to touch, play with, photograph, feed or otherwise interact with the animals. The focus is on whether or not the interactions are causing harm or stress/discomfort to the animals, and if they could be dangerous to the public.

Each item is scored as either two points for a Yes, zero points for a No or one point for Possibly. (The Possibly category also includes situations where the answer would be Sometimes; or if the answer is unknown).

The interactions are not harmful in any way for the animal’s welfare
Score: Possibly    1 Point

Some mentions that they may be using drugs to subdue tigers for photos. This can’t be proven, but aside of that, the general lack of high standards is of concern.

The interactions are not harmful in any way for the public’s welfare (any previous history of dangerous incidents)

Score: No    0 Points

Following reports on other tiger photo attractions there is, in my opinion, sufficient cause to believe that all direct tiger-human interactions can be dangerous

The animals are not forced to interact with the public – they can refuse

Score: Possibly   1 Point

No reports that the animals can refuse the interactions or not

The public are not allowed to handle the animals and touch them

Score: No   0 Points

No reports as to whether the animals can refuse the interactions or not

The interactions are supervised by staff and in an educational context

Score: No   0 Points

No educational content at all. Tiger, bird and sea-lion shows as well as photos being the driving force behind this attraction.

Total Score for Interaction with the Public:  2/10

Section Four: Conservation and Education

This section looks at whether or not the attraction has a focus on conservation – for example does it support animals in the wild through breeding programmes, research or donations; and education – are visitors informed about the animals so they are not simply seen as objects for human amusement/entertainment.

Each item is scored as either two points for a Yes, zero points for a No or one point for Possibly. (The Possibly category also includes situations where the answer would be Sometimes; or if the answer is unknown).

Are some of the animals part of international breeding programs?

Score: Possibly  1 Point

I don’t believe so, but there is no evidence to suggest one way or the other

Is there evidence of them having released animals into the wild?

Score: No    0 Points

Do they actively undertake scientific research into conservation/behaviour of their animals?

Score: No    0 Points

No evidence of any scientific research or conservation efforts or any scientists or conservation workers working for the zoo

Does the attraction give money to conservation or animal protection programmes?

Score: No    0 Points

Once again no claims or evidence to suggest any money goes to conserving the animals or environment

Does the attraction provide educational talks or written displays to inform visitors about the animals?

Score: No   0 Points

Many comments saying there were no educational signs and even the name signs were unreadable

Total Score for Conservation and Education:  1/10

 

Zoo Review Final Score for Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo:  14.5/50

Rating: Poor – it appears that significant improvement is needed in order to meet welfare standards

Do you agree or disagree with this Zoo Review? Please let us know in the Comments below.
If you are from this attraction and would like to comment on this Zoo Review, we’ll be happy to publish your response. Please email info@careforthewild.com or click here

Notes

1. This report was compiled on: 21st November 2014, by Tim Reynolds. Find out more about our Zoo Review campaign here.

2. Zoo Review Final Score is given out of 50 as a sum of the four sections, then a RIGHT-tourism Zoo Review rating is awarded based on this score:

0-10: Unacceptable – the animal welfare at this attraction appears to be of a very low standard and a cause of great concern
11-20: Poor – it appears that significant improvement is needed in order to meet welfare standards
21-30: Average – the attraction scores well in some areas but improvements would be welcome
31-40: Good – Public opinion and animal welfare measures suggest that the animals here are looked after well
41-50: Best in Class – the welfare of the animals appears to be of a very high standard

3. TripAdvisor and Google scores are worked out by dividing the number of negative welfare reviews by the total (20) and multiplying by 100 to give a percentage, then giving a score out of 2.5 as follows:

0-19% negative 2.5 points
20-39% 2 points
40-59% 1.5 points
60-79% 1 point
80-89% 0.5 point
90–100% 0 points

3. News and blog scores are worked out by dividing the number of negative welfare reviews by the total (10) and multiplying by 100 to give a percentage, then giving a score out of 5 as follows:

0-19% negative 5 points
20-39% 4 points
40-59% 3 points
60-79% 2 point
80-89% 1 point
90–100% 0 points