6 min read

Nightmare Zoo Makes Orangutans 'Fight' In Boxing Ring

We can't believe this is real 😢

The crowd roars and a bell rings to mark the start of the match.

The boxers run around the ring in circles, pummeling one another with their oversized gloves until one opponent eventually flops to the ground in defeat. Dancers in skimpy bikinis twirl and jump around on the sidelines as loud music plays to celebrate the winner.

It might sound like a typical weekend boxing match — but at Bangkok Safari World in Thailand, the performers are all orangutans.

orangutan boxing match thailand
Two orangutans "punching" one another in the boxing ring | Youtube/See The World

Over the past few years, multiple tourist videos have surfaced featuring the cruel shows, with the most recent being posted just a few days ago.

Before the 30-minute show begins, the apes are typically made to fly down to the stage from the rafters on a zipline and “play” in a band with instruments.

orangutan boxing match thailand
An orangutan flying down from the rafters on a zipline | Youtube/See The World

As two orangutans “box” one another, another group of apes above the ring appears to throw trash down onto them. All are dressed in human clothing.

Lis Key, communications manager for International Animal Rescue, has one word for the show: “sickening.”

orangutan boxing match thailand
An orangutan dressed in a bikini and dancing | Youtube/See The World

“Given the appalling conditions at many zoos in Thailand, it’s unlikely that the trainers adopt humane training methods,” Key told The Dodo. “These are not behaviors that come easily to orangutans and it’s frightening to imagine how they have been made to perform these sickening stunts.”

orangutan boxing match thailand
An orangutan wearing a boxing outfit standing on the ring | Youtube/See The World

In the wild, orangutans are arboreal animals who scale trees for miles. They’re also solitary as adults — which makes the loud shows highly stressful for the animals.

“The risks to these orangutans are huge,” Key said. “The environment they are living in is a far cry from the habitat they were born to. They are constantly exposed to human contact and germs which can easily be transmitted to the apes and even prove fatal if the animal’s immune system is already compromised.”

orangutan boxing match thailand
The orangutans being forced to "play music" | Youtube/See The World

As with many zoos in Thailand, it’s likely the orangutans were caught from the wild, Key said. In the process, most mother orangutans are killed to make it easier for poachers to take their baby. The babies are then sold on the black market to zoos or to residents as pets.

All three species of orangutan are critically endangered due to a blend of habitat destruction and poaching.

orangutan boxing match thailand
One of the orangutans jumping on the other | Youtube/See The World

“Young orangutans stay with their mothers until they are 6 or 7 years old,” Key said. “So it’s likely that these captive orangutans have suffered the terrible trauma of being taken from their mothers at an early age and forced into this completely alien existence of bright lights, noisy crowds and regular mistreatment and abuse.”

orangutan boxing match thailand
Orangutans dressed like medics running over to "rescue" the losing boxer | Youtube/See The World

Founded in 1988, Safari World calls itself a “world of happiness” on its website — but animal advocates from around the world are campaigning against it, saying its treatment of animals is anything but happy. An online petition started two months ago already has thousands of signatures urging the zoo to put a halt to the show.

Until then, Key urges people to never support organizations that force animals to perform in shows.

orangutan boxing match thailand
The trainers "crowning the winner" | Youtube/See The World

“These poor animals are being exploited in the most blatant and brutal way, simply for commercial gain,” she said. “The people who pay to watch these shows are enabling this cruelty to continue.”

Watch the full show below:

To help stop the shows, you can sign this online petition. To help more orangutans in captivity, you can make a donation to International Animal Rescue.