After Pak Elephant, Cher To Save Thailand’s Last Gorilla

After rescuing “the world’s loneliest elephant” from Pakistan, American singer Cher is now attempting to rehome Bua Noi, a gorilla who has spent the last 30 years behind bars above a Bangkok shopping mall.

According to animal rights group PETA Asia, Bua Noi was captured as a baby and taken to Pata Zoo, a small rooftop zoo, which has imprisoned animals in “abysmal conditions” since the 1980s, while numerous of the establishment on TripAdvisor refer to the zoo as an “animal hell,” reported Washington Post.

She is the only gorilla in Thailand after her mate died many years ago.

Pata Zoo has also been branded as ‘one of the saddest places in the world’ by the animal organisation, which called for the facility to be closed down after an investigation this year found the animals languishing in concrete cells with no physical or mental stimulation.

On December 5, Cher wrote to Thailand’s environment minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, and asked him to help her with her mission to release the gorilla.

In the document, she expressed deep concern over the living conditions of the gorilla and other animals being kept in the zoo, and said that her animal charity organisation – Free The Wild – has teamed up with Aspinall Foundation, a British charity for wildlife conservation, to secure a sanctuary for the animals at no expense to the zoo’s owner or the Thai government.

The singer said that the gorilla would be moved to a better and peaceful environment in Congo, where he can socialise with other primates, once granted permission to relocate.

UK media reported that in response to Cher’s request, Silpa-archa said that the zoo was devising a plan to relocate the animals and that the living conditions of Bua Noi were not forgotten by Thai officials.

“I, myself as minister in charge of wildlife conservation, have given instruction to the relevant agencies in order to find the best solution for a better life of Bua Noi,” he said.

Cher also accused the zoo owner Kanit Sermsirimongkol of profiting at the expense of animals trapped in captivity, while the owner maintained that relocating the gorilla would be a “difficult task”, as animals are under threat from diseases like AIDS, Ebola, as well as civil wars and poachers.

Meanwhile, the organisation Free Gorilla has been spending years campaigning for the zoo to be closed, saying that the lack of visitors due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic will make the animals feel even more isolated, reported Washington Post.

On its website, the group says its mission is for all 200 animals at the Bangkok zoo to be relocated.

Furthermore, a petition launched by the foundation calling on authorities not to renew the zoo’s license garnered more than 125,000 signatures.

This happens after Cher’s efforts helped Kaavan, known as the ‘world’s loneliest elephant’ relocate to a new home in Cambodia last month.

In May, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled that the animals kept in Marghazar Zoo were kept in cruel conditions and the zoo should be closed.

The unhappy elephant was also diagnosed as emotionally and physically unstable, while veterinarians have said that the elephant was malnourished. (ANI)

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