The Chiang Mai Night Safari – The Good and The Bad

We met some friends for dinner at a really great, kid friendly restaurant South of Chiang Mai called Nic’s.  Since we were already in the area we decided to go to the Night Safari.  We had not done any pre-research on it since our decision to go was spur of the moment.

Turns out the admission to actually do the safari tour was much too steep for our wallets at 800 baht per adult and 400 baht per kid.  We decided to instead to do the walking tour at a cost of 100 baht per adult and 50 baht per kid.

The walking tour basically involves walking the marked, paved path around a large lake and peering into the animal enclosures….at night!  It is possible to do this in the day time as well, you would certainly see more of the animals that way, but doing it at night adds a whole new level of fun!  The children ran around trying to spot the animals, most of which were still awake and at times it seemed we had the whole zoo to ourselves.

Feeding a giraffe at the entrance to the zoo.

Feeding a giraffe at the entrance to the zoo.


Unfortunately our camera does not take very good pictures at night and only a few turned out so you will have to imagine what it would be like to be in a zoo at night time.  Our pictures certainly don’t do it justice!

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What is a zoo without Santa?

What is a zoo without Santa?

The kids had a blast running around these sculptures as the lights changed colours and mist sprayed out of the ground.

The kids had a blast running around these sculptures as the lights changed colours and mist sprayed out of the ground.

I did have an ethical problem with one part of the zoo.  Of course one could argue that zoos as a whole are unethical but I do think they have a place in our society if the animals are treated right and are in spacious enclosures.  But what I had a problem with was people getting their pictures taken with tigers.  This is something that is done in many places in Thailand.  Many people speculate that the tigers are drugged into being docile.  I tend to agree…I think it is against a tiger’s nature to be constantly posed for pictures with tourists and not lash out with some tiger killer instinct!

A baby tiger in a tiny cage.

A baby tiger in a tiny cage.

The tigers were kept in VERY small cages until a tourist coughed up the bucks to have a photo taken.  I was able to watch the process but did not get any pictures because Mike was off with our camera.  The adult tiger was in a cage, the glass doors to the room were unlocked to let the tourist in and get seated.  Two men quickly and carefully opened the tiger cage and shoved a baby bottle with what appeared to be milk into the tiger’s mouth.  They then lifted the tiger up, one man holding the bottle to its mouth and using his other hand to lift it by the scruff of the neck.   The second man used two arms to lift him from under its back legs.  They placed the tiger on the tourists lap, took a step away, the photo was taken, and then they stepped back in and whisked the tiger back to its cage.

I don’t know about you but I think this is a totally unethical treatment of animals and I am surprised that people actually support this treatment by paying their money to get their pictures taken with these animals.  I know it is not something I will ever support!

What do you think? Would you get your picture taken with a tiger?

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  1. Alyson says:

    I posted about the same thing, different part of Thailand, a few days ago! I totally agree and no, I would never, ever, support this sort of thing. I’m a big fan of good zoos though, they are extremely important in conserving some species. I once had my photo taken with a littler of tiny baby tigers in South Africa, they weren’t drugged, seemed healthy. It was only afterwards that I started to wonder why on earth they were breeding tigers in Africa, they had dozens of breeding adults at a lion and rhino game reserve. I wonder if they were the source of all the abused tigers you see around the world.

  2. Living Outside of the Box says:

    I agree with you…the enclosures for the animals (and photo-taking) made me sad. However, we did have a fun time with you, and the kids enjoyed themselves. I’d much rather support the Chiang Mai Zoo, though!

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