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Dam Sen Park Stops Using Exotic Animals in Circus Shows Following Complaints

Dam Sen Cultural Park in District 11 will stop featuring wild animals such as orangutans, elephants and bears in their circus performances.

Du Huu Danh, the park’s director, said they will immediately stop the weekend performances’ use of the exotic animals, and only include monkeys and dogs in shows for which people have already purchased tickets. He said that they “will wait for the official decision from competent authorities,” regarding the future of animal shows.

The decision comes in response to a letter sent to the Vietnamese Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism, Nguyen Ngoc Thien, by the Asia for Animal Coalition (AFA) calling for a ban on wild-animal circus performances. The letter, which called out Dam Sen Cultural Park by name, claims shows across the country abuse 19 different animal species, some of which are endangered.

The letter criticized the performances on several grounds. The AFA claims the animals often lack traceable origins, live in squalid conditions, and undergo significant stress in part due to mistreatment during training. They say that the use of animals negatively impacts Vietnam’s image and undermines its ability to protect its endangered wildlife, while park operators show no interest in educating the public about the animals’ plights.

The AFA recommended that the offended facilities be prosecuted and a complete ban be placed on animals being made to perform outside their natural habitat. It also suggested efforts be made to rehabilitate rescued animals with international assistance while aiding circuses in transitions to more morally-sound forms of entertainment.

Danh pushed back against insinuations that the park uses animals of dubious origin, claiming all bears, for example, are microchipped and managed by local protection centers. The park follows all legal procedures, he says, and the performances are conducted by trained professionals. He claims that he only learned of the AFA claim when reading about it in the newspaper.

If Vietnam were to ban animal performances, it would join a growing number of nations to have passed such legislation. Nations across Europe and South America and local jurisdictions in the US have recently deemed the use of wild animals for entertainment illegal.

[Photo via Chia Se Ky Nang Song]

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