Governor Sittipunt mandates strict standards for any new Chatuchak pet centre after a fire kills 5,000 animals. With a July 15 deadline, city officials intensify surveys and regulations to prevent future disasters and ensure animal welfare.

Bangkok’s Governor Chadchart Sittipunt has made it clear that any renewed development of the Sri Somrat Market Pet sales zone at the Chatuchak market will require full compliance with regulatory provisions on both fire safety and the treatment of animals. It follows Tuesday morning’s disaster which saw 5,000 creatures perish. At the same time, it generated negative news headlines worldwide centred on Thailand. In addition, city hall officials are currently surveying pet vendors in Bangkok. The goal is to ensure that they apply for registration and are approved, with a deadline set for July 15th. Initial reports show that in four key districts, only 30 out of 233 outlets were registered at all.

(Left) Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt has ordered new regulations for pet shops in the capital. Furthermore, all such outlets must now apply for permission to operate by July 15th next. The crackdown comes in response to Tuesday morning’s disastrous fire at the Chatuchak Centre, which saw 5,000 pets and creatures perish in a raging fire. Meanwhile, the centre itself is sealed off for 90 days as an intensive investigation is underway. (Source: Associated Press and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration).

Following this week’s tragic fire at the Chatuchak market in Bangkok, it has been confirmed that approximately 5,000 animals and assorted creatures died.

Governor of Bangkok Chadchart Sittipunt has promised that any reopening of the facility will be subject to stringent regulations.

Application must be made to the City Hall by the State Railway of Thailand to reopen the well-known shopping centre. Conditions to be placed on pet centre

First, he explained that at this time, the State Railway of Thailand, the owner of the centre, must apply to rebuild and reopen the facility.

The pet market, known as the Sri Somrat Market Pet sales zone, was already controversial before Tuesday’s early morning fire. Wildlife campaigners had long accused some traders of engaging in the illegal trade of animals and exotic species.

On Wednesday, Mr Chadchart noted that the market has been selling animals and pets for over 20 years. Indeed, it is understood it had recently renewed its contract with the State Railway of Thailand, a government-owned body that oversees Thailand’s rail system and owns large tracts of land, particularly in Bangkok.

Among the 5,000 creatures which perished were 3,500 fish, 37 dogs, 2 monkeys, and 1,382 birds. The death toll included 30 squirrels, 100 turtles, 25 cats, 10 raccoons, and 217 chickens. In addition, there were snakes and other exotic species.

Death of Mexican Black Kingsnake who in the end was forced to bite his own tail fanned the outrage of animal rights activists following the disastrous fire

One incident that drew outrage was the death of a Mexican Black King snake which had bitten its tail when instinctively it knew death was approaching from the inferno. At length, the fire broke out at 4:10 am on the 11th and took firefighters one and a half hours to extinguish.

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Meanwhile, Governor Chadchart and top officials at City Hall in Bangkok plan to use the disaster to regulate the trade.

At this time, surveys of pet shops and wildlife traders are being conducted in the capital, particularly in the Chatuchak area where the market is located.

For some animal rights campaigners, such as SOS Animal Thailand Foundation, there are 1,000 pet and wildlife traders in Bangkok. However, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration survey has so far only revealed 233. Only 30 were found to be licensed or registered.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration ready to bring key legal provisions into its local code and requirements for licencing pet shops and wildlife centres

Local authority officials in Bangkok have been studying the country’s legal provisions including the Public Health Act of 2012, the Animal Epidemics Act of 2015, and the Prevention of Cruelty and Animal Welfare Act of 2014.

Governor Chadchart was clear. If any new proposed pet or wildlife trading centre is to be reopened it will have to comply fully with government regulations. These will certainly include proper care for animals and mandatory fire prevention measures to prevent another disaster like this.

The fire on Tuesday morning drew international press coverage from around the world. 

Indeed, this was noted by a string of animal rights groups, ten in all, who made a public appeal on Wednesday.

These included the Society for the Promotion of Animal Welfare Under Royal Patronage, the Thai Animal Guardians Association and the Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The groups called for full protection of animals and wildlife in commercial hands.

The activists said the tragedy had shown Thailand in an extremely poor light.

Pet shops and wildlife outlast must now register with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration by July 15th as officials launch a drive to enforce the law

At the same time, officials with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration are giving other pet centre operators until July 15th to apply for permission to operate.

It follows the survey of such outlets in Sanam Luang, Thai Watthana, Chatuchak, and Min Buri. Other areas will also be looked at.

Governor Chadchart explained that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will now essentially become a regulator of such establishments. In short, an effort to improve conditions for pets and prevent further loss of life.

The popular city hall leader emphasised that clear and strict regulations will be laid down. No longer will the matter be allowed in the discretionary hands of local officials from multiple agencies.

Disaster site now ring-fenced and closed off by police for 90 days. An intensive investigation is underway into the exact cause of the conflagration

Meanwhile, the site of the disaster has been closed off for a period of 90 days.

A thorough investigation into what happened has been ordered. Fifty-eight of the one hundred and eighteen traders at the burned down market can presently be certified as disaster victims.

The Chatuchak centre itself was a huge draw for foreign tourists. Over 200,000 weekly visited the centre, and certainly part of that appeal was the pet and wildlife adjunct. Undoubtedly, its controversial nature was part of that appeal.

Mr Roger Lohanan is the Secretary-General of the Thai Animal Protection Association.

He said full transparency was required with regard to the results of the investigation. In addition, any future reopened centre must comply with the highest regulatory standards.

In particular, he underlined the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty and Animal Welfare Act 2014. He said government agencies should collaborate with volunteer animal rights groups to monitor the operations of such centres.

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Further reading:

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