Aussie faces Thai jail over alleged animal abuse
Footage from inside Phuket Zoo showing distressed animals in cramped, dirty cages has been released in an animal welfare scandal that has led to an Australian man facing charges in Thailand.
The video footage, released exclusively to News Corp, shows orang-utans in tiny, dark indoor cages while other imagery reveals frail-looking bears in cramped enclosures.
The footage was taken after a Thai wildlife authority declared the zoo was in "perfect condition".
Minh Nguyen, 32, from Sydney's Arncliffe has been charged with breaching the Computer Crimes Act and faces a maximum five-year custodial sentence, if found guilty, for creating a GoFundMe page and posting Instagram stories asking for public donations to help feed large numbers of animals, including seven tigers, he says he found abandoned and starving at Phuket Zoo due to COVID-19.
The page has raised more than $45,000 since its creation two weeks ago.
However, a shareholder from the family-run zoo, Mr Suriya Tanthaweewong, denies the animals have been mistreated and complained to police that Nguyen was sharing misinformation online which made him "lose face".
"They're saying I'm making them look bad and I'm bringing shame to their country," said Nguyen.
"I'm scared for my life basically but I've achieved what I set out to do. I raised a whole lot of funds, I've been feeding the animals."
Nguyen was arrested alongside his alleged co-conspirators American woman Joy Marie Somers and two Thai men, Hussen Armad and Hasten Koltcah. Koltcah has been charged with trespassing.
All suspects deny wrongdoing, with Nguyen claiming he had explicit permission from Mr Tanthaweewong's mother and older brother who own the zoo to fundraise. He claims they told him they could not afford to feed the animals due to COVID-19.
Originally published as Aussie faces Thai jail over alleged animal abuse