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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August 2004, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Thai orangutan fights suspended
An orang-utan boxer at Safari World
Animal rights groups claim the boxing bouts are cruel
A Thai wildlife park has suspended orang-utan kickboxing fights following a warning from police and complaints from animal rights groups.

The orangutans, in boxing gloves and brightly-coloured shorts, have featured at Bangkok's Safari World for decades.

But the authorities have ordered the fights stopped while they investigate claims of cruelty and exploitation.

According to the Bangkok Post, police suspect the orangutans were smuggled illegally from Indonesia and Malaysia.

These are the only two countries where the animals still live in the wild.

But Safari World's managing director Pin Kewkacha denied the allegations against the park.

He said there were a lot of orangutans because of a successful breeding programme, supplemented by donations of animals from members of the public.

Safari World also played down the row.

"We decided to stop the monkey show for various reasons, and because it was a small show anyway," a spokeswoman told the French news agency AFP.

Last week international animal rights groups called for a boycott of the park, saying the animals were being exploited in tourist shows.

Orangutans are an endangered species, and there are now fewer than 20,000 left worldwide, according to the Orangutan Foundation.

Orangutans 'may die out by 2025'
12 Jan 04 |  Science/Nature

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