26 January 2013


I have always had mixed feelings about zoos. They seem to be something of a hangover from the nineteenth century when wealthy societies brought exotic animals home for the amusement of  inquisitive citizens who were beginning to discover that there could be more to life than just work. But what do you do in Bangkok when your Saturday social diary is curiously empty? You can keep the city's massive shopping malls - not my cup of tea at all. Instead I decided to visit the zoo that King Rama V initiated over a hundred years ago following his royal tour of Europe.

I showed the taxi driver my city map pointing to the zoo and said "Suat Dusit! Suat Dusit!" which means Dusit Park. Instead this dumb sucker took me to a hotel to the east of the city centre called The Dusit something or other, in spite of me twice showing him the map again when we were stuck in Bangkok's predictable traffic jams clearly going in the wrong direction. Perhaps he was blind - not the best characteristic for a cab driver. Anyway we got there in the end for twice the expected fare but still only £4 ($7).

I had a lovely lunch in the restaurant by the lake that you can see to the left of the third photograph and I observed some interesting creatures even though I felt like setting a lot of them free - especially those larger caged birds that had no room to fly. Here's a sample of what I saw:-
Green tree python
Smooth skinned otter
Lake with view to King Rama V's Dusit Palace
Asian elephant with very dexterous trunk
Bengal tiger watching the world go by. Up The Tigers!
Malayan Sun Bear at feeding time. Until today I had no
idea that this creature even existed


  1. I lived in a zoo once for the best part of a year. Quite literally, to go home I had to go through the public turnstiles, past the wolf enclosure, the reptile house, the monkeys and the penguins. I went back recently and where we lived is now a small gopher field. A magical year.

    That, though, was the only zoo that I have ever loved. Went to the world renowned San Diego zoo a few years ago and it left me as emotionally cold, mentally dusty and slightly embarrassed on behalf of my species as did all of the rest.

    Wildlife parks, where limited animals of the sort that like to roam free are allowed to enjoy roaming over a relatively large area? Well, maybe those are easier to defend. Penguins in a plastic bathtub and tigers behind bars on concrete? No way, José.

  2. Mixed feelings here too - theoretically, all for animal freedom and all that, but in reality zoos still draw me in!
    Luckily many are now much better and offer a certain amount of dignity to most animals, but ...

    Speaking of Tigers, hope you're not taking Hull FC's thrashing at the hands of "mighty Barnsley" too hard. Just think it was the only logical result on the cards. Sorry!!

  3. I feel a bit like you do about zoos though I love to be able to see the animals so we never visit zoos. ( We don't have a zoo in Brisbane anyway !)I know they often have lovely enclosures that mimic habitat and they do serve a very good purpose in maintaining breeding programs for endangered species. Having large birds in an enclosure where they can't fly is awful though isn't it? As Owl says wildlife parks are a much better alternative

  4. OWL WOOD What is going on? Your response was lucid and restrained. Were you under the weather? I guess you lived in the nocturnal aviary?
    BRIAN Hull City have a death wish when it comes to the FA Cup. Good luck to the Barnsley Miners in the next round. Hope you get a good draw.
    HELENSIE There may come a day when outside our zoos, some animals won't even exist. I guess this is already happening. As you say many zoos also support laudable conservation work.

  5. Where you sat to have your lunch looks very pretty...but on the limited visits I have had to a zoo I have generally come away feeling sad.

  6. I'm not particularly fond of zoos either but they are good for educating children. With most of society now being essentially lazy and with attentions spans measured in seconds, I can't see zoos offering the enclosure sizes the animals really need as no-one would walk the distance required to see everything.

    On my last visit to a zoo, I stood next to the lion enclosure where this raggedy old male was pacing up and down the fence and I felt bloody sorry for him. He approached the fence and looked me square in the eye. 'You poor bugger' I said whereupon he turned around and shot a spray of urine all over me. I had to laugh but the rest of the party in the car as we drove home weren't so amused.


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