Cher wants to free gorilla caged for thirty years in a shopping mall

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Kanit Sermsirimongkol. He refuses to release the female gorilla he has caged up for 30 years at his private zoo in a department store

I can barely write about this because it is so cruel and when you write about cruel things you can be cruel to yourself because it hurts. But this is genuine cruelty and it is taking place in Thailand where 95% of the population are Buddhists. And Buddhists have always regarded animals are sentient beings and that any human can be reborn as an animal and an animal can be reborn as a human. A basic precept in Buddhism is that of non-harm.

Kanit Sermsirimongkol. He refuses to release the female gorilla he has caged up for 30 years at his private zoo in a department store

Kanit Sermsirimongkol. He refuses to release the female gorilla he has caged up for 30 years at his private zoo in a department store. Photo in public domain.

Keeping a gorilla in a cage in a shopping mall department store for thirty years does mental harm to this primate. So clearly Buddhism in Thailand is hollow and false. The Thai people should be ashamed of this and they should be campaigning hard for the release of this gorilla but it is now down to Cher to highlight the need to move her out to a better place.

Cher has been in the news having been involved in the release of “the world’s loneliest elephant” in Pakistan, another form of animal cruelty by the way. Bua Noi is the gorilla that I’m referring to and she was brought to Thailand in 1988. She is at Pata Zoo. It’s a private zoo and the situation has been criticised by animal advocates. Cher has joined the call for her release.

She’s written to Thailand’s environment minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, expressing her deep concern about the situation. Bua Noi’s mate died more than a decade ago. Cher’s charity, Free the World, has offered to transport Bua Noi to a new sanctuary in the Republic of Congo where her environment would be far more natural and where she could have the companionship she needs. Gorillas are social animals.

There are other animals that this zoo including primates which also need releasing, of course. On Twitter, she’s asked the “good people of Bangkok” to stop torturing animals! That seems to be an oxymoron but I take your point. She is calling upon Thai citizens who feel like me and Cher and many millions of others who hate to see this sort of animal cruelty.

This cruel private zoo is owned by Kanit Sermsirimongkol. The Guardian newspaper reached out to him for comment but in the past he has rejected claims that the animals are poorly treated.

This man’s zoo has been criticised in the past. His license to run the zoo was renewed back in 2015 after calls to have it shut down. Back then, five years ago, there was criticism about the living conditions of Bua Noi. At that time she was 27 years of age. Sermsirimongkol says that people are misled by Internet information. And he disagrees with people spreading disinformation. He has a word for people who single-mindedly think that animals should not be kept in enclosures: lok-suay (blind optimistics). Clearly, I am one of those people. Perhaps we should give him a description as well: “blind to his cruelty”.

He says that he treats Bua Noi like his own daughter but he wouldn’t keep his daughter in a cage for 30 years would he? He said that eventually he will have to find her a suitable new home. How long does she have to wait? My message to Sermsirimongkol is that animal advocates are not blind optimistics as you describe them but enlightened people who want to improve the relationship between animals and humans, for good. It is you who is blind not us.