Pattaya croc farm licence suspended

Pattaya croc farm licence suspended

Officials try to feed crocodiles from a raft during an inspection of the Elephant Kingdom Pattaya on Friday. (Photo by Chaiyot Pupattanapong)
Officials try to feed crocodiles from a raft during an inspection of the Elephant Kingdom Pattaya on Friday. (Photo by Chaiyot Pupattanapong)

PATTAYA: A popular crocodile farm has its operating licence suspended for 90 days after photos of tourists feeding the reptiles from a floating cage raised concerns about safety.

The feeding activity at Anachak Chang Pattaya, also known as Elephant Kingdom, could cause a risk to people's lives, said Adisorn Promthep, director-general of the Fisheries Department.

The popular attraction in Bang Lamungh district is owned by Utairatch Crocodile Farm & Zoo Co, whose main business is breeding the animals.

Police and officials from other agencies visited the farm on Friday after a video showing the feeding frenzy went viral.

The rafts, which measure 5x10 metres, are equipped with outboard motors as well as cables that allow them to be towed to safety quickly. They also have chest-high barriers, but many people who viewed the video believe the practice of feeding the crocs from such a platform is still risky.

Mr Adisorn said the farm was in violation of a ministerial regulation issued under the 1992 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, which requires operators of public zoos to provide safety measures for visitors and people living nearby.

In his capacity as director of the department responsible for issuing operating licences for crocodile farms, he has suspended the licence for 90 days while the farm improves safety measures.

He has asked the Chon Buri provincial fisheries office to inspect the farm to ensure that new measures are put in place. He has has also instructed all fisheries offices to inspect similar farms in their areas.

Uthen Youngprapakorn, the owner of the attraction, said earlier that there had never been an incident involving the floating feeding platforms. Each cage can bear a load of about eight tonnes but occupancy is limited to 10-15 people at a time to ensure safety, he said.

Elephant Kingdom covers 48 rai in all and has two ponds, one used for breeding some 4,000 crocodiles and 300 gharials. There are also hornbills, panthers and leopards at the site.

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