A 33-year-old gorilla who has spent most of her life alone inside a metal cage on the seventh floor of a shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand, has been dubbed the world’s loneliest gorilla.
Bua Noi was only one when she was put into the cage that would become her permanent home for more than three decades. She was one of the main attractions of a bizarre zoo – if one could even call it that – inside Bangkok’s oldest shopping mall, Pata Pinklao Department Store, and owners refused to relocate her to a more suitable location, despite numerous requests from animal rights activists and the Thai Government. Even today, Bua Noi’s owners refuse to let her live out the rest of her days in a sanctuary, with other members of her species.
“This shabby facility is internationally condemned as one of the worst zoos in the world,” PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker said. “I urge everyone to keep the pressure on Pata Zoo and to demand that it let PETA help retire these animals to reputable sanctuaries that would meet their physical and mental needs.”
Thailand’s environment minister has also stated that he wants to see Bua Noi, whose name means ‘Little Lotus’, transferred to a wildlife sanctuary where she can “experience her homeland and be with other gorillas,” but one of his secretaries has made it very clear that the gorilla is private property and the owner’s permission is required to have her relocated.
“Bua Noi is considered private property so we cannot do anything to remove her,’ Thanetpol Thanaboonyawat said. “The owner bought Bua Noi before laws were introduced to prevent the trade and ownership of endangered animals and wild animals. We collected donations from Bua Noi’s supporters. But the problem is that the owner refuses to sell Bua Noi. When he does agree to sell her, the price is too high.”
According to Thai news sources, Bua Noi’s owner is asking for around $800,000 to set the gorilla free, but the company that owns the zoo has denied any negotiation to sell the animal. Its representatives insist that the gorilla is well taken care of and that she hasn’t suffered any physical or mental stress.
“Those people saw the picture of her on the internet and assume she’s depressed. But that’s how she looks just like humans – some have a sad face and some have a happy face,” zoo director Kanit Sermsirimongkol said. “The criticism doesn’t concern me, because we know her best.”
Unfortunately, despite the international outcry, there isn’t much anyone can do, unless the zoo’s owners decide to let her retire after a lifetime of loneliness. Gorillas can live 35 to 40 years in the wild and up to 50 years in captivity, so Bua Noi is already going into her golden years.
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Bua Noi’s sad story is reminiscent of another tragedy we covered a few years back – the sad story of Honey, the world’s loneliest dolphin, who died alone in an abandoned Japanese waterpark.