New Investigation Reveals Shocking Conditions for Orangutans at Thai Zoos

New Investigation Reveals Shocking Conditions for Orangutans at Thai Zoos

In a recent investigation conducted by animal protection nonprofit Lady Freethinker (LFT) in collaboration with acclaimed photojournalist Aaron Gekoski, distressing revelations have emerged about the appalling conditions faced by orangutans in Thai zoos.

The findings expose a grim reality, with the primates residing in small, unsuitable enclosures, enduring physical abuse, and being subjected to degrading performances for human entertainment.

The investigation, carried out at five different zoos in Thailand in September 2023, uncovered a disturbing panorama of neglect and cruelty.

The images captured during the visit depict orangutans living in filthy, barren enclosures surrounded by trash, lying listlessly on the cold floors of their concrete pens, and being fed inappropriate items such as bags of potato chips.

Perhaps even more shockingly, the investigation revealed instances of orangutans being forced to participate in degrading shows, including “orangutan boxing” matches.

Credit: Lady Freethinker
Credit: Lady Freethinker

The animals were seen clinging desperately to the metal bars of their enclosures, a stark testament to their distress.

One handler was observed mistreating an orangutan named Tanja, using rough handling techniques such as tugging on her arms, pulling her into position, and chaining her.

Even more concerning was the revelation that orangutans were coerced into posing for “selfies,” which involved inappropriate contact with tourists, including groping of breasts and groins. Lady Freethinker strongly condemns these practices, emphasizing the inherent cruelty and disregard for the well-being of these intelligent animals.

Credit: Lady Freethinker
Credit: Lady Freethinker

Nina Jackel, the founder and president of Lady Freethinker, expressed deep concern about the situation, stating, “Orangutans deserve better than to be forced to perform and pose for the amusement of humans.” She is calling on Thai officials to take decisive action by banning forced selfies with orangutans and putting an end to all wild animal performances immediately.

A primate expert, Nedim C Buyukmihci, V.M.D., co-founder, and veterinary advisor of Action for Primates, reviewed the footage obtained by LFT. He commented on the evident physical and psychological suffering experienced by the orangutans in Thailand, calling it a “sad indictment of the inhumanity of people towards these critically endangered great apes.”

What you can do

Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.


Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.

This article by Trinity Sparke was first published by One Green Planet on 17 November 2023. Image Credit :Credit: Lady Freethinker.

Dive in!

Discover hidden wildlife with our FREE newsletters

We promise we’ll never spam! Read our Privacy Policy for more info


Founder and Executive Editor

Share this post with your friends

Leave a Reply

Notify of