Phuket is full of tourist attractions involving wild animals – elephant parks, different kind of zoos, animal shows. However, if you really love and care for animals, most of businesses profiting form wild life, such as the Phuket Zoo or the up and coming and much criticised dolphinarium, are better to be avoided, as rather than protecting animal population, they exploit and thrive on animal cruelty.
That said, the island still provides a number of great opportunities to get up close with the animal kingdom in a sustainable, ethical way. Here are some ideas for animal friendly time in Phuket:
Yes, there is a bird park in Phuket. But the experience of seeing birds in their natural habitat, without cages and bars, is incomparably more exciting. And in Phuket, it’s quite easy. Most of Phuket’s residents wake up daily to bird’s chirps and tunes. And if you can hear them, you can see them too. All you need is a pair of binoculars and a bit of patience. To increase your chances of spotting the less common birds get off the beaten track and head for the mangrove forests on Phuket’s east coast or visit the Sirinat National Park in Phuket’s north.
Meet the dolphins
Calls to stop the construction of a dolphinarium in Phuket are growing louder and more desperate by the day, and rightly so. If this cruel institution ever gets launched on the island, most of ecologically conscious tourists will surely boycott it. But does boycotting the dolphinarium mean being forced to only watch dolphins on the TV? Not necessarily. With a bit of luck, you will spot some wild dolphins on your way to one of the smaller islands surrounding Phuket, like the famous Phi Phi. These mesmerizing, friendly creatures are far from shy and enjoy swimming near tourist boats, giving you a chance to admire them the way they should be admired – in nature.
Spend sometime with the gibbons
If you’re ever offered a chance to snap a photo with a monkey, gibbon or slow loris in one of Phuket’s tourism hot spots, simply turn around and walk away, or even better – report this kid of activity to the authorities. To enjoy the company of gibbons and keep you conscious clean, visit Phuket’s Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, located nearby Bang Pae waterfall, 9 km east of the Heroines Monument and approximately 3km in straight line from Thanyapura. The project is dedicated to protecting Phuket’s gibbons’ population and has been doing so with great success for more than 20 years. There you’ll learn about the lot of gibbons in South-East Asia, get a glimpse of these fascinating apes on their way to recovery and may even consider adopting one to help it get back on its feet.
Feed the fish
The waters of numerous Phuket’s lakes might look calm and still but underneath the surface, wild life reigns uncontested. Just about any water body located in a public park in Thailand and in Phuket is full of fish, and one of favorite local pass-times is to sit on the shore and feed these ever-hungry creatures. The fish food is usually sold nearby the ponds and so is Som Tum, Gai Yang and other Thai dishes that keep the fish feeding crowds from getting hungry.
Set a turtle free
Except for millions of tourists from around the globe, one more creature has chosen Phuket as its favorite destination – the sea turtle. It’s on the island’s northern beaches that a natural spectacle takes place each year, when thousands of sea turtles hatch from their eggs to try and make it to the relative safety of Andaman Sea’s waters. Unfortunately each year, less little turtles succeed and fishing boats and nets kills more of the adult ones. What can you do to help? Taking part in one of the sea turtles releases organized by a number of hotels and holiday resorts in Phuket, might be a good idea. These family friendly evens offer a chance to get close with the sea turtles and support the efforts of turtle conservationists.