BANGKOK — The environment minister said Thursday no animal was harmed or killed in a fire that broke out at a shopping mall-operated zoo.
In response to concerned inquiries from citizens about the Wednesday fire at Pata Zoo – where animals reside in cages – environment minister Varawut Silpa-archa said no animal was hurt, citing an investigation by his officials.
“Nowadays we are worried about all zoo animals in the country starving due to no visitors. I’d like to ask zookeepers to take special care of the animals and facilities, especially the electricity system,” Varawut said. “We don’t want to see this happen again.”
Wildlife officials and insurance officers investigated the fire together.
The cause of the fire is said to be from an electrical short circuit around the python exhibits on the sixth floor. Since the area was poorly maintained, the old wires easily set fire to the plywood walls.
Bua Noi the 29-year-old gorilla, and other primates such as the bonobos and chimpanzees are housed on a different floor of the zoo.
Pata said that the zoo is currently closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the zookeeper visits every day to check on the animals. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said the zoo should take this time during the outbreak to fix up the facilities.
Pata Zoo has drawn controversy in recent years due to the accusation that the facility was poorly maintained, as well as the enclosure of Bua Noi since 1992. Animal rights activists have been calling for the zoo to close down, to no success.