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Thailand zoo sparks outrage after making chimpanzee ride a bike while spraying COVID-19 sanitiser

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A Thailand zoo has sparked fresh outrage after making a chimpanzee ride a bike while spraying COVID-19 sanitiser.

Footage filmed on April 11 shows the primate wearing a surgical face mask, denim shorts and an orange Hawaiian shirt while pedalling the children's bicycle with a tank strapped to the back spraying disinfectant.

The animal was recorded at the controversial Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, where bosses wanted to show the work they are doing during the pandemic.

Campaigners have been trying for several years to have the zoo closed down after repeated cases of emaciated elephants being abused, bears rocking nervously back-and-forth while stuck in filthy pools and malnourished crocodiles.

Responding to the video of the chimp, animal rights group PETA said the treatment was ''heartbreaking'' and described the zoo as a ''hell hole.''

Spokesman Nirali Shah said: ''Places like Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo are hellholes where animals like this chimpanzee endure miserable lives in captivity every single day.

''They're routinely mistreated, and know little more than chains. When they're not used for human 'entertainment', they're held in cramped cages.''

Nirali said that PETA investigators documented several accounts of abuse at the zoo last year, such as animals being beaten with bamboo sticks.'

She added: ''Despite multiple attempts to contact Samutprakarn, the zoo's management has never responded.

''PETA submitted the investigative findings to the Thai police and lodged an official complaint with authorities, urging them to inspect the zoo.''

The farm director Uthen Yangpraphakorn said they had to keep the place clean to be ready to re-open as soon as the government eases Covid-19 coronavirus restrictions.

Uthen said: "We have been closed since the government orders about the virus, so in the meantime we do not have much to do.

"We clean the place two or three times a week in case the government will allow us to re-open, so we are ready to start accepting visitors again.

"The chimp was also train in the farm so we just brought him out to let him stretch his limbs during this inactive period."

Since recording began, Thailand has declared 2,643 Covid-19 coronavirus cases and 43 deaths. The country has enforced strict measures to combat the pandemic including closing zoos and other businesses, banning passenger flights, imposing curfews, sweeping travel bans and alcohol prohibition.

The Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo sparked outrage last December when footage emerged of a painfully thin elephant being forced to perform tricks for crowds.

Since then, animal rights groups including PETA have have pressured tour companies to stop taking holidaymakers to the enclosure just south of Bangkok.

Chinese firm Ctrip - Asia's biggest online booking agency that handles millions of holidaymakers a year - ditched the zoo in August 2019 and stopped selling tickets to the facility. The firm owns Skyscanner, Trip, and Tours4fun.

Yet despite the growing pressure from activists, the zoo continues to operate and animals are still in appalling conditions.

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