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It is said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Thousands of people had shared pictures online of foreign tourists enjoying a trip at a Pattaya animal sanctuary.
Fifteen tourists at a time were shown on the rather rickety looking rafts as the crocs reared up and grabbed food in the pictures posted Thursday.
But also looking at the pictures were Chonburi officials who swooped on the “Anajak Chang Pattaya” facility in Banglamung district yesterday. The entourage comprised police, forestry and fisheries officials and soldiers along with reporters.
They were received by the well known owner Uthen Yangprapakorn who gave them a guided tour of the facility.
Apart from the crocs there are other wild animals such as tigers and leopards as well as elephants for rides and birds. All licenses pertaining to operating a zoo were above board.
But the officials really wanted to see the crocs. These are contained in two large lakes. The first is ten rai in size and contains 1000 crocs. The second is even bigger, 38 rai with 3000 animals.
Uthen said that the rafts were 100% safe and were his own invention. They could carry 8 tons but were limited to 15 tourists per time along with a guide and a driver. An emergency plan was in place in case one broke down, he said – another boat would come to the rescue or they would be dragged back. He also showed them three safety gates to gain access to the lakes from the main body of the sanctuary.
Officials were less sure about the safety. They felt the boats should have more power and that safety measures were inadequate. An analysis by experts was ordered.
Although not reported by Thai Rath, elsewhere on the internet it was reported that the fisheries department had temporarily removed the license pending an investigation due to safety concerns for tourists.
Maybe there is such a thing as bad publicity.