Activist Cages Himself to Protest Animal Captivity in Pandemic

Left: Canoe the chimpanzee in his cage, in a photo provided by Wildlife Friends Foundation. Right: Edwin Wiek in his cage. Photo: Edwin Wiek / Courtesy

PHETCHABURI — The founder of an animal welfare organization is locking himself in a cage for a week to raise money for his effort to rescue caged animals during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Edwin Wiek of the Wildlife Friends Foundation said he has been living inside a cage since Friday afternoon. In a phone interview on Monday from his self-captivity, Wiek said his organization needs the money to care for animals rescued from horrid conditions in zoos and elephant camps. 

The steel bar cage, only 1.4 meters by 2.3 meters and less than two meters high, was previously inhabited by Canoe, a chimpanzee in Bangkok that was locked up in it for 32 years.

“It’s only been four days and I’m already crazy with the space,” Wiek said. “That monkey spent 12,000 days in here.” 


Wiek, a 54-year-old Dutch national, said he will end the stunt if he raises 25,000EUR (886,225 baht) for his project. As of Monday he’s raised 20,855EUR (739,288 baht). Most donations are coming from Europe, the US, and Australia, he said. 

He can only exit the cage for bathroom breaks, only six a day and no longer than 10 minutes at a time, though Thailand’s weather made the experience almost unbearable. 

“Mosquitos I don’t mind, or the ants or the snakes; I don’t really care,” Wiek said. “ It’s the heat, It’s so humid. 

The zoos, elephant camps, and tiger farms nationwide are almost bereft of income due to lack of foreign visitors amid the virus pandemic, leaving many animals at the risk of starvation. 

“Elephant camps, sanctuaries, tiger farms have no income. The zoos in Phuket and Samui are closing,” Wiek said. “What’s the future of these animals? The 3,000 elephants in captivity are involved in tourism, which is nonexistent now. Even if tourism opens up it will never be the same.”

The activist said donations will go to his Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand Rescue Center in Phetchaburi, which currently houses 780 rescued animals, including gibbons, macaques, orangutans, chimpanzees, elephants, and a bear.

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Edwin Wiek in his cage. Photo: Edwin Wiek / Courtesy

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