Tag: Thailand

Sunday Cats: The Man Who Saves Fukushima’s Felines, Ridiculous Cat Names and More

Saving Fukushima’s Forgotten Felines

It’s hard to believe that March 11 will mark 10 years since the tsunami-caused nuclear disaster at Fukushima. While more than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes to avoid the initial reactor meltdowns and resulting fallout, Sakae Kato stayed to care for the animals who were left behind.

His main focus is Fukushima’s cats, and he cares for 41 kitties who live in his home and a nearby building he owns, per The Guardian, which has a photo gallery via Reuters illustrating Kato’s efforts.

The Fukushima disaster was the worst nuclear accident since the infamous Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. Like the area surrounding Chernobyl, a no-go exclusion zone exists around the disaster site and will not be deemed fit for human habitation for perhaps hundreds of years. While scientists are still learning about the consequences for wildlife, animal populations have flourished in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, where they’re isolated from humans.

Exclusion Zone

Ridiculous and amusing cat names

If you’re planning on adopting any time soon or you’ve got an as-yet-unnamed furball and need some help finding a good name, you might find inspiration in this list from Reader’s Digest.

There are celebrity-inspired names (Kitty Purry, Catalie Portman, Bob Meowley, Cat Dennings, Catrick Swayze), Star Trek-inspired names (Captain Purrcard, Levar Purrton, William Catner, Leonard Nemeow), literary names (Haruki Purrakami is my favorite along with Holden Clawfield and Stelmaria), names inspired by history (Mewlius Caesar, Fuzz Aldrin), and names from the world of sports (Catfish Hunter, Meowhammad Ali). There are even food- and personality-driven names.

Thai sailors get props from PETA

The Thai Royal Navy sailors’ heroics went viral when they rescued four cats from a sinking fishing ship earlier this week. Now they’ve earned PETA’s “Hero to Animals” award.

“These sailors’ courageous and compassionate actions have made a splash with kind people around the world,” PETA senior vice president Jason Baker said. “PETA hopes their example will inspire everyone to keep an eye out for animals in danger and do whatever it takes to get them to safety.”

Update: After Ordeal At Sea, Cats Recover With Their Rescuers

The four lucky felines who were rescued from a sinking ship by Thai sailors on Wednesday were dehydrated and spooked by their ordeal but otherwise doing well, the Thai Royal Navy said.

Their brush with danger began when the Phamonsin Nava 10, a local fishing vessel, caught fire and capsized in the Andaman Sea, a section of waters off the west coast of Thailand and Myanmar. The ship was about eight miles from Koh Adang, the nearest island.

The Phamonsin Nava’s eight human crew members abandoned ship and took their chances in the water until a nearby fishing vessel was able to scoop them up. It’s still not entirely clear why the crew left the cats, who were forced to huddle together on a perilous perch as the ship sank.

The cats would have been doomed if not for the timely arrival of a ship from the Thai Royal Navy’s Air and Coastal Defense Command, which was dispatched to assess the abandoned ship for a potential oil spill. Wichit Pukdeelon, one of the sailors on the Thai navy vessel, spotted motion on the sinking ship and used his camera’s zoom function to locate the frightened feline quartet.

With nowhere else to retreat, the terrified cats were huddled together on a wooden beam. One of the sailors, 23-year-old Thatsaphon Saii, swam to the wreck and rescued each of the cats separately by placing them on his shoulders for the swim back to his ship.

“I immediately took off my shirt and put on a life jacket so I could jump into the sea. The flames were at the back of the boat but it was starting to sink, so I knew I had to be quick,” Sai told the Daily Mail. “I’m so relieved that we were able to save the kittens. They would have drowned or died of thirst if they went into the sea.”

Saii, Pukdeelon and the rest of their team are caring for the cats at their base on Koh Lipe, an island that together with Koh Adang and several others forms part of a maritime national park. Their heroics have made them celebrities in their country, with thousands of appreciative fans from Thailand sending them congratulatory messages online.

 

Dramatic Rescue: Sailors Save Cats From Sinking Vessel

Four terrified cats learned humans are good for more than just opening tin cans, fluffing pillows and providing massages when they were rescued from a sinking, burning ship by a Thai navy officer.

The ship caught fire in the Andaman Sea — a popular area for fishing and commercial shipping bordering coastal Thailand and Myanmar — on Tuesday, and the human crew were rescued and taken to safety by a passing ship.

But four ginger cats remained aboard and their time was running out. When a Thai navy vessel was ordered to the site of the capsized vessel to check for a potential oil spill, First-Class Petty Officer Wichit Pukdeelon saw the domestic kitties huddled together on a small wooden beam. Most of the ship was below the water line at that point and the cats didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Cats In Trouble
The cats were miles off shore and had retreated to a wooden beam as the ship sank. Photo credit: Wichit Pukdeelon

“I used my camera to zoom in to the boat, and I saw one or two cats popping their heads out,” Pukdeelon told Reuters.

One of the officers dived into the choppy waters and swam to the sinking ship, where he took the cats on his shoulders and brought them to the safety of the Thai Air and Coastal Defense vessel. All four cats survived.

The sailors took the cats back to their base on Koh Lipe, an idyllic island on the Andaman Sea known for its beaches and dive sites. The presumably grateful furballs will remain there in the care of the sailors for at least the foreseeable future.

(Note: It wasn’t clear why the original crew abandoned the cats. We’ll keep an eye out for updates and follow up if we learn anything.)

Dramatic Kitty Rescue
This may be one of the few times a cat didn’t mind getting wet. Photo credit: Wichit Pukdeelon 

 

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The sinking ship as seen from the prow of the Thai navy rescue vessel. Photo credit: Wichit Pukdeelon 

Cat Defends His Territory From An Elephant In Thailand

So this story about a cat fearlessly staring down an elephant in Thailand has gone viral, and the photo is admittedly pretty incredible. Bud would’ve soiled himself and bolted, but this cat is truly brave.

“This is my territorah!” we imagine the cat declaring. “Find your own trees!”

The cat’s name is Simba, he’s three years old, and the photos were taken on the night of Nov. 17 in Thailand’s Nakhon Nayok province, about 112 km (70 miles in the Proper American Method of Measuring Distance™) northeast of Bangkok.

Beyond that, though, it’s actually a sad story: You know things are truly dire when we’ve destroyed so much wildlife habitat that elephants are coming up to people’s houses and eating the trees and shrubs in their gardens. Elephants usually do everything they can to avoid humans, and for good reason: Conflicts almost always end poorly for the elephants.

We hope this photo draws the attention of the right people, who can perhaps mitigate the situation or put resources into moving the elephants to a more suitable range.

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P.S. Buddy disputes any and all allegations that he would have soiled himself or run away from elephants. In fact, the elephants are lucky they don’t share a continent with Buddy!

Ballsy Thai Tourist Grabs Tiger’s Crown Jewels

Look at the balls on this one!

A woman from Thailand apparently decided that caging, beating and sedating tigers for selfies wasn’t enough mistreatment for Earth’s critically endangered apex predators. You can always add more insult, just a little icing on the “We Destroyed Your Entire Species” cake, by grabbing a handful of tiger testicles and mean-mugging for a selfie.

Of course the reason the tourist, named Waraschaya Akkarachaiyapas (also referred to as Khun Waraschaya in some media reports), was able to enter the tiger enclosure and pose with the tigers in the first place is because the keepers at Tiger Kingdom zoo in Thailand sedate the animals until they can barely yawn, rendering them incapable of defending their personal space or doing anything other than laying down as tourist after tourist touches them and poses for selfies.

Tiger Kingdom was at the forefront of the so-called “Disneyfied” “zoo experience,” in which the operators rake in millions by breeding tiger cubs like an assembly line and charging tourists to interact and pose for photo with the animals.

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The tourists are told comforting lies: Employees of Tiger Kingdom dress like Buddhist monks, spout platitudes about being one with nature, and claim their “humble” operation began when one kindly monk took in an orphaned cub and founded a sanctuary decades ago.

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Tourists are told that kindly monks founded a sanctuary after taking in an orphaned tiger cub.

The reason the tigers are so docile, the tourists are told, is because the monks hand-raise them, socializing them with humans from a young age. (Paging Siegfried and Roy, as well as Joe Exotic’s two former employees who lost limbs to hand-reared tigers!)

The comforting fiction allows tourists to justify what they’re doing: When an acquaintance of mine proudly changed her social media profile photo to a shot of herself hugging an adult tiger, she acted as if she was shocked by the suggestion that the tigers were sedated. No, she explained, you don’t understand! These tigers were hand-raised by the monks from the time they were cubs! That’s why they love spending 12 hours a day having their tails pulled and getting mounted by tourists who want to ride them like horses. They love it!

It takes only a few seconds to refute what we’ll gently call that misconception: Articles abound of former employees and conservation experts describing horrific conditions for the animals at Tiger Kingdom. (It’s not the only “zoo” that thrives on selling big cat interactions in Thailand: When the infamous “Tiger Mountain” attraction was raided by authorities in 2016, they found the remains of more than 60 tiger cubs, tiger pelts, and “around 1,500 tiger skin amulets, plus other trinkets apparently made of tiger teeth.”)

The cubs, who would normally spend at least two years with their mothers, are taken away when they’re infants so Tiger Kingdom’s employees can hand-raise them, and not with the care and good intent they claim: The operators want the cubs to be accustomed to being handled and passed around so they don’t protest too much when tourists manhandle them.

The cubs are big money-makers, and tourists will pay a premium to feed them from milk bottles. The baby tigers are fed and fed until they can’t drink anymore, then they’re fed some more, former employees say. The bottle-feeding only stops when the day’s over and there are no more tourists forking over an additional $15 to get “adorable” photos of themselves with the babies.

That’s also the age when the cubs are introduced to the bamboo stick, the primary tool for keeping them in line. A cub who doesn’t want to leave its cage for another day of manhandling and force-feeding is smacked on the nose with a bamboo stick until it complies.

Tiger attractions like the infamous one at Thailand’s Tiger Kingdom have popped up all around the world, with interest fueled by enthusiastic reviews from celebrities like Beyoncé, who shared photos of her visit to an American tiger park with her millions of Instagram followers.

If Queen Bey says it’s okay, then it must be okay. Okay? 

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Queen Bey says it’s okay to mess with tiger cubs and chimp babies, so it must be okay!
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Queen Bey says it’s okay!

Life as a cub at Tiger Kingdom is a walk in the park compared to adulthood. Most of the adults are confined in cages 24 hours a day and are only let out on busy days when the operation swells with visitors who want tiger selfies. (Tiger selfies are extraordinarily popular with men who use them on dating site profiles, and Buddy’s home state of New York went so far as to ban tiger selfies because of their prevalence.)

When you consider the context, it’s really not surprising when someone like Waraschaya Akkarachaiyapas feels perfectly comfortable literally molesting the animals for her amusement.

We’ve poached this species to the brink of extinction and destroyed its habitat. We make rugs of their pelts, mount their taxidermied heads to our walls, sell their claws and teeth as trinkets, and grind their bones into dust for use in elixirs that allegedly cure ailments like baldness and erectile disfunction, according to ridiculous millennia-old folk medicine systems. (Having exhausted their supply of tigers to slaughter for traditional Chinese “medicine,” the Chinese have turned to poaching the Amazon’s jaguars to fuel their insatiable appetite for big cat parts. Jaguar poaching has skyrocketed “200 fold” in the last five years to fuel Chinese demand for animal parts.)

In that context, literally molesting a helpless animal is a drop in the ocean of abuse, decimation and the destruction of the dignity of these amazing animals. We’re supposed to be the intelligent species on this planet, the wise caretakers of the only world that we know of brimming with life. We are failing miserably.