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Thousands of animals perish in devastating Chatuchak Pet Market fire

A devastating fire at Chatuchak’s Sri Somrat Market on 11 June 2024 killed thousands of animals, including exotic species. The blaze, likely caused by an electrical short circuit, destroyed all 118 pet shops.



BANGKOK, THAILAND: A devastating fire tore through the Sri Somrat Market in Chatuchak district early Tuesday morning, resulting in the tragic loss of thousands of animals, including many valuable exotic species.

The blaze, which ignited around 4:10 am, decimated all 118 pet shops within the market’s 1,400 square meter area.

The market, located behind JJ Mall shopping center on Kamphaeng Phet 3 Road, is renowned for its diverse range of pets and exotic animals. Firefighters were dispatched promptly and took approximately half an hour to extinguish the flames. Despite their swift response, the damage was extensive, with vendors reporting significant losses.

Among the casualties were ornamental fish, cats, dogs, birds, and monkeys, alongside exotic species valued at five to six digits of baht each.

One vendor, who preferred to remain anonymous, speculated that the fire originated in a dog shop where electric fans were left running overnight for the animals’ comfort. This vendor estimated that thousands of animals had perished in the inferno that quickly spread throughout the market.

An unidentified guard at a bird shop recounted the harrowing moments when the fire broke out. While watching over rare birds on the mezzanine floor, she heard the cries of animals and struggled to breathe due to the smoke, forcing her to flee. She highlighted the significant loss of cockatoos, which are among the most expensive birds in the market, valued at 30,000 baht each.

Over 10 water trucks were deployed to combat the fire, with firefighters working diligently for about an hour to bring the situation under control. Authorities have launched an investigation to determine the exact cause of the blaze, with initial reports suggesting an electrical short circuit as the likely trigger.

This tragic event raises questions about the adequacy of safety measures in pet shops across Thailand.

Current regulations, governed by the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act of 2014 and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives’ 2020 announcement on animal welfare in pet shops, mandate that pet shops have stable and secure structures to prevent animal escapes. However, there are no specific provisions addressing fire safety measures.

The incident has left the community in shock and mourning, with many vendors devastated by the loss of their beloved animals and livelihood.

The full extent of the damage and the number of animals lost are still being assessed as the investigation continues. The fire has also prompted animal welfare advocates to call for stricter safety protocols in markets and shops selling live animals to prevent such catastrophic losses in the future.

Edwin Wiek, Founder and Director of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, says: “Chatuchak Market is a shame on the city of Bangkok. It has been allowed to continue selling animals unethically and often illegally for far too long. We are urging the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to act now and stop this place from selling animals, particularly wild animals.”

“Many of these poor animals are smuggled into the country, often illegally. It is immoral, cruel, a health and safety hazard, and completely unnecessary. This isn’t the first time a fire has occurred in a venue where exotic animals are kept needlessly; it has happened too (more than once!) at the horrendous Pata Zoo, where endangered species are imprisoned for tourist entertainment. The BMA needs to act and stop this senseless cruelty to animals.”

In light of this tragedy, the Department of Livestock Development has emphasized the need for enhanced education and enforcement of animal welfare standards among pet shop operators. This includes revisiting the laws and ensuring comprehensive safety measures are in place to protect animals from various hazards, including fires.

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