Exotic animal meats on VIP menu at Thai zoo

VIP guests at the grand opening of the night safari zoo in northern Thailand will not only get to see exotic animals, they'll get to taste them.

The Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo will have its official opening on New Year's Day, and the "Exotic Buffet" marking the event will include tiger, lion, elephant and giraffe, said Plodprasop Suraswadi, the director of the zoo project.

The VIP guest who pay 4,500 baht (US$110, Ђ95) for the buffet will have the privilege of tasting an exotic menu, ranging from dog meat from (Thailand's Sakhon Nakhon province) to lion meat from Africa.

Critics have lambasted the idea, saying that it will encourage wildlife trafficking in a country and region already notorious for smuggling tiger parts, bear claws and endangered species for Chinese delicacies, traditional medicines and pets.

Kenya said last week it will give Thailand 175 wild animals, including African buffalo, various species of antelope, zebra and giraffe, as a gift to strengthen relations, but conservationists voiced concern that Thailand does not have a good track record of wildlife management and conservation.

The project, based on Singapore's Night Safari Zoo, will have 2,000 animals of about 100 different species, AP reports.

А. А.

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