• Footage of a chimp forced to ride a bike while disinfecting a zoo surfaced online
  • The zoo was notorious for mistreating animals
  • Campaigners have been unsuccessfully trying to shut down the zoo for years

A zoo in Thailand, reportedly infamous for mistreating animals, was facing backlash for forcing a chimp to disinfect the facility while riding a bike.

Footage from the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo in Thailand showed a chimp wearing denim shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and a face mask while riding a kid's bike with a disinfectant tank strapped to the back.

Amid the backlash that the zoo faced because of the footage, farm director Uthen Yangpraphakorn explained the employees were not mistreating the chimp, but actually just letting him stretch his limbs while the zoo was still closed due to government measures against the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have been closed since the government orders about the virus, so in the meantime, we do not have much to do," Yangpraphakorn said, according to The Sun. "We clean the place two or three times a week in case the government will allow us to reopen, so we are ready to start accepting visitors again. The chimp was also trained in the farm so we just brought him out to let him stretch his limbs during this inactive period."

Despite the explanation, animal rights group PETA filed an official complaint to Thai police, especially given the zoo's history of mistreating animals.

"Places like Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo are hellholes where animals like this chimpanzee endure miserable lives in captivity every single day," PETA Asia spokesman Nirali Shah said, according to The Sun. "They are routinely mistreated and know little more than chains. When they're not used for human 'entertainment,' they are held in cramped cages."

In fact, campaigners were trying to have the zoo closed down for years. There were reports of bears having to swim in filthy pools, malnourished crocodiles, animals being beaten with bamboo sticks and, emaciated elephants being abused and forced to perform tricks.

Although animal rights groups have successfully pressured some tour companies to stop selling tickets to the facility, the zoo remained operational. However, government measures against the coronavirus pandemic forced the zoo to close down along with other businesses.