Orangutans are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom and share a full 97 percent of our DNA. They are extremely intelligent and maintain strong bonds between mother and child. They are also very adept at making and using their own tools, like a cozy seat in which to rest, and they even prefer to wipe their chins with makeshift leaf napkins when they eat.
But despite the many similarities we share, they don’t aspire to be like us. They would rather roam the treetops than stand firmly on the ground, they opt for a more solitary existence, and they in no way enjoy dressing up in our clothes or performing before cheering fans. Nonetheless, some captive orangutans are being forced to do precisely that at Bangkok’s Safari World zoo.
Safari World’s Orangutan Boxing Show thoroughly humiliates these brainy beings by suiting them up in Muay Thai gear and making them pretend to box like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson –in spite of their peaceful dispositions and kind natures. According to one spectator, “Throughout the ‘performance,’ their faces registered utter dejection.”
The zoo’s website, however, boasts: “Your closest cousins will tickle you with their keen sense of humor and dazzle you with their mathematical gifts. It is non-stop entertainment at its best as orangutans dish out trick after trick, from engaging the swing-bars to engaging a coconut! And who could miss the world’s first and only orangutan boxing show…starring the funniest and hairiest champions of the olympics?”
Seems “fun” right? But the reality is orangutan boxing is anything but humorous and fun. It thrives on cruelty and suffering by forcing these animals to act unnaturally and subjecting them to violence and starvation behind the scenes in order to train them to comply. Handlers heartlessly poke and push these gentle beings during these events to get them to perform as desired, and off-stage, they’re kept in terrible conditions. This is not how our closest cousins deserve to be treated.
The best means we have to end this tragedy is to not attend and to stop others from attending so that the zoo no longer finds it profitable to continue these brutish events. Unfortunately, some travel sites like TripAdvisor promote Safari World’s Orangutan Boxing Show as a highly appealing attraction, which encourages greater and greater attendance each year. That’s why today we ask that you sign this petition on Care2 urging TripAdvisor to stop advocating animal cruelty and delete the Bangkok World Safari Zoo listing from its platform immediately.
Image source: World Animal Protection