Heartless zoo owners will only release worlds saddest gorilla for £700,000

A heartless zoo owner has demanded £700k for the release of a gorilla dubbed the “world's saddest”.

Bua Noi had been the target of campaign groups around the world with many calling for her to be allowed to spend her final years of life in a sanctuary with other primates.

Having spend her entire life, all 33 years of it, trapped in a small and dirty enclosure inside a Thai shopping centre since 1990, many were hoping the owner of the Pata shopping mall would release her.

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But he has laughed off appeals from the government and animal rights group PETA – and even global superstar Cher – and decided to keep the animal locked up.

And now the owner, who has remained nameless so far, has told Thailand's secretary to the minister of Natural Resources and Environment Thanetpol Thanaboonyawat that he wants 30 million Thai baht – around £700,000 – in order to release her to a sanctuary in Germany.

Mr Thanaboonyawat said: “We have held activities in the past campaigning for Bua Noi's release and to raise funds.

“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.

“Bua Noi is considered private property so we cannot do anything to remove her.

“The owner bought Bua Noi before laws were introduced to prevent the trade and ownership of endangered animals and wild animals.”

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Bua Noi has been held captive since she arrived from Germany when she was just a year old, around 1990, when the owner imported her for three million baht.

Bizarrely, the filthy zoo with rusty metal bars sits on the top floor of a rundown department store in the centre of Bangkok, Thailand.

Heart-wrenchingly, she has been locked in her cramped and dirty cage and has never set foot outside the concrete floor.

Bua Noi's plight first emerged in 2015 when animal rights activists handed in a petition which called for Bua Noi's release and the zoo's closure.

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Speaking at the time, petition organiser Sinjira Apaitan said: “I don't think animals should be locked up in such unnatural habitats.

“I hope to help all other animals being held captive in this high-rise zoo as well.”

Officials of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation ordered the zoo to close after it was found to lack the correct paperwork.

However, it eventually re-opened and kept the gorilla.

PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker said this week that Bua Noi was being forced to live in ”horrifying and cruel conditions and is suffering extreme psychological distress".

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He added: "This shabby facility is internationally condemned as one of the worst zoos in the world.

“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."

The zoo, however, denied there was any deal to sell the country's last gorilla.

A spokesman said: “The current team of Pata Pinklao department store executives has been in charge of the management since August 28, 2020.

“Up to now, the executives have never entered any negotiations to sell Bua Noi with anyone or any agencies.

“The ageing gorilla has spent her life at the zoo and has been accustomed to this environment and a disease-free place for more than 30 years.”

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