Thai police seize 200-plus animals at private zoo

AP News
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Posted: Mar 08, 2012 8:22 AM
Thai police seize 200-plus animals at private zoo

More than 200 animals, including kangaroos, flamingos, red pandas and white lions, were seized from a private zoo Thursday in Thailand's largest recent wildlife bust.

Most of the animals were non-native species intended to be sold domestically or smuggled elsewhere. Thailand is a hub of the international black market for protected animals.

More than 50 species of animals had been kept without a license in the compound, police Maj. Gen. Norasak Hemnithi said. The owners had imported animals from Africa and elsewhere for almost 10 years, he said.

Five tigers, 13 white lions, three pumas, three kangaroos, four flamingos, two crowned cranes, 66 marmosets, two orangutans and two red pandas were among those seized, according to a conservation organization, the Freeland Foundation, that helps train Thai wildlife officials.

"The target today was running a virtual Noah's Ark," the foundation's Steven Galster said in a statement.

Freeland's statement said three male suspects were detained because they lacked permits to keep the animals, which are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The zoo is in Saraburi province, 60 miles (90 kilometers) north of Bangkok.

Norasak said the raid was a follow-up to one made in Bangkok a month ago in which eight suspects were caught at a slaughterhouse in Bangkok dismembering tigers, elephants and zebras for meat and to fashion trophies.