Baby gibbon photo-op on beach draws flak

ATTRACTING lots of comments from both Thai and foreign netizens is a video clip taken and shared by a Facebook user by the name of Arkadiy Kulev showing a Thai man carrying a baby gibbon as he strolled along Koh Samui’s Chaweng beach accosting and charging tourists to take photos with it, which he said is animal torture, the Thai-language daily Matichon reported today (July 25, 2018).

This is what Kulev posted in English:

“Endangered Gibbon used to entertain tourists on Chaweng Beach in Koh Samui, Thailand. Sadly, these captured Gibbons have a very short “working life.” When they get to age 6 or 7, they develop canine teeth and often become more aggressive. Once they are no longer cute and compliant, many are killed. Also, gibbons do not breed in captivity. Which means that this baby gibbon was poached from the wild (or bought on the black market). This it the same beach where a slow loris was found with teeth ripped out so tourists could take selfies in 2016:”

In the video clip taken from a restaurant on Chaweng beach this Thai man talks to a female tourist and then gives her the gibbon to hold. After that her friends join her to play with the small creature; moments later they passed it to a man and take a group photo with it.

Lots of Thais and foreigners jumped in to express their opinion with one comment being that “people should file a police report so that they patrol the beaches and catch this group of people.”

Another person said, “I have complained to local and tourist police many times already but they were not able to do anything. I think we should inform Surat Thani national park to help out.”

A third netizen said, “I took a picture with a gibbon 8 years ago but I did not know it was a wild animal, after that I started feeling sorry for these animals.”

According to, gibbons thrive on the abundant fruit trees in their tropical range, and are especially fond of figs. They will occasionally supplement their diet with leaves and insects.

Gibbons are monogamous (a rare trait among primates) and live in family groups consisting of an adult pair and their young offspring. The family will stake out a territory and defend it using loud, haunting calls that can echo for miles throughout the forest. Mated pairs, and even whole families, will sing long, complex songs together. Some species have even adapted large throat pouches to amplify their calls.

These iconic tree dwellers are among the most threatened primates on Earth. Their habitat is disappearing at a rapid rate, and they are often captured and sold as pets or killed for use in traditional medicines. Many species of gibbon are listed as endangered or critically endangered.


Top: The Thai man carrying the baby gibbon (in yellow T-shirt) with tourists on Chaweng beach. Photo: Matichon