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Hope for Captive Wildlife in Thailand


FOUR PAWS and Thai government cooperate to improve welfare of captive wildlife

Brussels/Thailand 21.03.2017 – FOUR PAWS starts an unprecedented veterinary and animal care programme to improve the welfare of captive wildlife in Thailand. Between December 2016 and March 2017, the international animal welfare organisation set up a veterinary training programme and examined approximately 165 big cats and other wild animals, including tigers from the infamous Tiger Temple.  

© FOUR PAWS | Bogdan Baraghin

Wild animals are rapidly declining in numbers and being abused for tourist entertainment. It’s estimated that there were more than 800 tigers in Thai entertainment venues at the beginning of 2016. Several years ago, the Thai government introduced an animal welfare law that allows for the confiscation of illegally kept wildlife. FOUR PAWS supports Thai authorities in their efforts to improve animal welfare in the country. Current cooperation was started at the invitation of the Thai Department of National Parks (DNP), which operates 24 confiscation centres in the country.

© FOUR PAWS | Amanda Mustard

Dr Amir Khalil of FOUR PAWS says: „We are thrilled that so many local veterinarians attended our training in March. We share with them our experience in treating the diseases that confiscated wild animals often suffer from, such as dental and eye problems. The Thai government is to be commended for this great cooperation, which is unique and was conducted in a collegial atmosphere.“

© FOUR PAWS | Amanda Mustard

During the training, specialists from FOUR PAWS demonstrated modern medical equipment and gave lectures on diagnosing and treating reproductive disorders, pain evaluation, endoscopy, respiratory problems and more. At least 40 government veterinarians attended the training.

© FOUR PAWS | Bogdan Baraghin

Helping the animals

Along with delivering training courses, FOUR PAWS employees improved keeping conditions at two confiscation centres: Khao Zon and Khao Prathap Chang. The centres have, among other animals, 147 tigers that were confiscated from the well-known Tiger Temple in June last year. The team renovated enclosures by providing better substrate, fixing damaged fencing, as well as installing resting platforms and enrichment. The wild animals were clearly pleased with the improvements, which offer the distractions and activity so much needed by animals in captivity.


Some animals at the facilities are suffering from spinal problems and wounds or their paws were worn, so specialists from FOUR PAWS and the DNP provided them with needed veterinary care. During two interventions in December 2016 and March 2017, the team examined up to 165 animals, supported the feeding, treatment and enrichment and urgent surgical operations for tigers, leopard cats, Asiatic black bears, gibbons, a sun bear, a leopard and a camel.

© FOUR PAWS | Amanda Mustard

© FOUR PAWS | Amanda Mustard

Nest steps

The program is part of a long-term initiative by FOUR PAWS to improve the welfare of captive wildlife and build a state of the art wildlife rescue centre in Thailand. Back in March 2016 FOUR PAWS met with Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment to make a proposal for building a species appropriate facility for confiscated wildlife.


Better facilities will enable the authorities in Thailand to confiscate more animals in their efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade. Representatives from FOUR PAWS and the DNP will meet in April 2017 to discuss further stages of this cooperation.