Thailand's Siracha Khao Kheow Zoo
by Jack Corbett

Khao Kheow Zoo
So large you need a golf kart and a road map to get around at Khao Kheow Zoo

The 2000 acre Khao Kheow Zoo in Sri Racha Thailand just 45 minutes from Pattaya is huge by any reasonable standard of measurement.  

That's over three square miles which is far too large to walk unless one came to exercise instead of seeing the animals.   We rented an extra large golf kart for all five of us.  There's 600 different species here and over 8000 animals altogether.  Just consider the zoos you've been to back home and ask yourself one question.   Does your zoo back home have over 48 species of wild cats?  Probably not because the zoos you've already been to probably have just  a handful of big cats. Here you will find white tigers, clouded and black leopards as well as the usual lions and Bengal Tigers.    At Khao Kheow 40 acres is devoted to the big cats alone.  By now you are probably asking, "Is this the famed Tiger Zoo of Sri Racha all the tour groups go to? Absolutely not and you aren't going to find it in the travel brochures either.  Although Sri Racha is not a large city there are two zoos here, and despite the Tiger Zoo's excellence, Khao Kheow can only be described by superlatives.  It has the second largest aviary in Asia for example so if it's birds you came to see, you can be sure that Khao Kheow eclipses anything you've seen in the U.S. 

I've lived in Pattaya for over four years before even hearing about it.  I don't even think the place has its own web site.  But Sri Racha's Tiger zoo does, which means Khao Kheow zoo must be Pattaya's best kept secret.   To get there, you will need to book a taxi and make sure the taxi driver isn't taking you to the Tiger Zoo.  But sheer size alone is not the only measure of this zoo's overall excellence.  The Thais love animals much more than lawyers.  In the U.S. the zoos are run for the benefit of the lawyers who are out to make a quick buck because some idiot or another got bitten by a sparrow.  And make no mistake, their allies comprise the majority of U.S. population who  lie about how much they hate lawyers until the chips are down and Mr. or Mrs. Joe Average is nipped by a chipmunk or spills a hot cup of coffee on himself.  Just watch how fast the hypocrite heads to the  nearest lawyer once he sees those dollar signs.   Compared to the zoos in Thailand American zoos are sterile and boring.  And if you don't believe me check the pictures below where you will find us petting and feeding elephants, giraffes, and deer.  In one picture you will see my girlfriend within one foot of a hippopotamus, an animal in the wilds of Africa that can and oftentimes does bite people in half.  Had she wanted to she might have fed or petted the dangerous animal.  As they say in Thailand, it's up to you.  To those in the know the animals that are most likely to bite you are the monkeys which are running about loose.  There are signs reading, "Do not feed the monkeys".  The Thais leave it at that so the choice is yours. 

There's even a night safari that starts with an early supper.  We haven't done that one.  Yet.  If you are an animal lover or just a nature lover, Pattaya's the place to be.  Not only do you have your choice within the same city of two excellent zoos, but there's also the Elephant village on Pattaya's outskirts where you can ride elephants for an hour long jungle excursion, and that's just one of several or more places you can ride elephants.  There's elephant shows at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden where audience participation with the elephants is conducted on a scale they'd never allow in Western countries.  There's the Crocodile Farm just minutes away from your hotel that's home to thousands of crocodiles.  In fact there's hundreds of crocodiles at the Tiger Zoo.  So if wildlife is your thing, come to Pattaya because there's a lot more here than what is probably the most hedonistic bar scene on earth. 



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