Zoo agency sets up board to investigate illegal trade

Zoo agency sets up board to investigate illegal trade

Chavalit (left): Has suspicions; Smitti (right): One deer eaten by python.
Chavalit (left): Has suspicions; Smitti (right): One deer eaten by python.

The Zoological Park Organisation of Thailand (ZPO) board on Tuesday set up a panel to investigate the illegal wildlife trade across zoos nationwide in the wake of the disappearance of rare albino barking deer at Songkhla Zoo.

Chavalit Chookajorn, the former permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, who chairs the board, said the board agreed to form the panel to help look into whether or not illegal wildlife trading is taking place in Thailand.

The panel will also help answer public questions about the disappearances of two albino barking deer at Songkhla Zoo.

Mr Chavalit said the ZPO board still has suspicions about the fate of the two deer, even though there is strong evidence that one of the two was eaten by a python.

He said the panel will look into their disappearance and will also launch an examination of the current state and numbers of the animals in zoos nationwide and whether there are signs of illegal wildlife trading.

There are six zoos under the organisation's responsibility and they are in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Songkhla, Ubon Ratchathani and Chon Buri.

Mr Chavalit said that the board has found that the process of reporting animal populations in the zoo is quite complicated and takes time, and the system must be urgently fixed and updated.

In future, Mr Chavalit says the public will be able to have access to each zoo's information, adding that reports around the births and deaths of animals will be posted on the ZPO's website.

The ZPO board yesterday selected Smitti Darakorn Na Ayudthaya of the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University as the acting director.

Mr Smitti said that the board is clear that one of two albino barking deer was killed by a python, as its carcass was found in the giant snake's stomach after being caught by authorities.

The carcass is being kept at the veterinary hospital of Songkhla Nakharin University.

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