The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment plans fund-raising events to buy the country's last gorilla, held caged at a shopping mall in Bangkok that has put the price at 30 million baht.
Thanespol Thanaboonyawat, secretary to the minister of natural resources and environment, said on Friday that the gorilla, a female known as "Bua Noi", would then be allowed to live out its life in a much nicer environment.
The ministry would organise fund-raising events to purchase "Bua Noi" from Pata Pinklao Department Store.
Mr Thanespol said the ministry had negotiated for the release of the gorilla from its cage at the department store's Pata Zoo. The management had fixed the price at 30 million baht.
"The ministry and the Zoological Park Organisation have received many complaints from people that Bua Noi has lived in her cage for more than 30 years... It would be better if Bua Noi could see other gorillas back in her original home in Germany, instead of dying alone in a cage," he said.
Mr Thanespol said it would not be possible to release the gorilla into the wild. She could not survive.
The ministry planned fundraising activities such as charity runs to raise donations from the public for the purchase, he said.
The ministry could not take any action other than buy the giant ape, because the gorilla was private property. The owner had obtained her before Thailand banned the trade in endangered species in compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), Mr Thanespol said.
Bua Noi was one of the first gorillas exhibited in Thailand. She was one of a pair. She was imported from Germany when three-years-old and had been on display at Pata Zoo since 1992, he said.
Her male mate had died, and she had since lived alone in a cage just 10 metres wide and 20 metres long, he said.