SAVE MILO – Victory and the story as it unfolded
Sept 2015 – Feb 2016
I met Milo at Phuket Zoo whilst my friend Louise Rogerson (founder of EARS) and I were checking the welfare of the animals at the zoo, before going to assess the state of the Nemo Dolphinarium next door. I was doing this for dolpinproject.net whom I am a cove monitor for, and had been campaigning against this dolphinarium for a year and a half.
Milo was very sweet with us, and her handlers let us stay and spend time with her at no charge. I vowed to come back each week, and Louise advised me greatly on what to bring and how to enrich her poor life.
Pretty soon I had built a strong trusting bond with Milo, I asked the zoo persistently to feed her better as she was so overweight, and to give her exercise. I also requested that they remove her from her horrific enclosure and move her to an outdoor enclosure. I offered to help raise funds for this and to help build it, that I had experts at hand to advise me.
Jan 29th 2016
Pete Bethune of Earthrace and the TV show The Operatives, came to visit me in Phuket to talk about potential work we could do together to save animals, and also so he could meet Milo. We discussed perhaps taking legal action against the zoo, or even buying her….we were that desperate. He was so shocked by her conditions. He posted a video which really helped the change.org petition that I had started.
Feb 19th 2016
We are told that the zoo will be inspected by the Wildlife Police of the Royal Police of Thailand, and also by the DNP.
I go to the zoo at 9am to meet the Phuket News to cover Milos story.
The DNP did not show, but the Wildlife police inspected. Milo was NOT there.
The representative of the zoo told myself and the Phuket News, that he had “released” Milo into the jungle where he had found her 2 years ago. I know that Milo had been in the zoo for far longer than that, as I had seen her there 5 years before with my family when we visted, shocked at the state of the premises and the conditions for the animals. I really wanted to work with them to improve the animals conditions, but mostly Milos.
Edwin Wiek of WFFT really pushed the petition and called me regularly all day, and we doubled our signatures that night. He reached out to all the officials that he knew and really got the ball rolling. I am so grateful to him.
He suggested I drive to the reserve in Phang Nga, 2 hours away from the zoo, as he had been tipped she would be brought there if anywhere. I drove immediately after the zoo meeting to the reserve, but low and behold…Milo was not there. I think the rangers thought I was crazy. I left very upset and anxious now about Milos welfare, and I decided to call the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project to see had she been seen in their national park. Their rangers or volunteers had not seen her, but I still took a trip down….no sign…..I went home and did not sleep a wink that night.
Feb 20th 2016
Milo is officially declared MISSING. Yet then something magic happened…
That night about 7.30pm I was told by the Phuket News that they had received a photo from the rangers at the National Park here, near to where the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is, that Milo was in a locked cage, dumped in the jungle with no key…
I was beside myself but was assured that she was bring taken care of.
Feb 21st 2016
My children and I, along with my friends children who had stayed with me the night before, woke up at 6am to head straight to the National Park where Milo was. Seeing her was such a relief. We posted photos to show the world that it was in fact her, and then spent time with her there ensuring she was safe. There was no key to the cage so we could not take her out. Probably better for her seeing as she was nervous and scared. She was then taken to the police station where paperwork was filed before being driven an hour and a half away to Phang Nga province, to the Wildlife Nursery and Reserve National Park there. Khun Roch who had been taking care of her accompanied her on this journey, and I drove ahead to make sure I was there when she arrived. I was so ecstatic and relieved. It was like finding a lost child! We were so delirious and finally able to breathe. I had not slept or eaten in 3 days with worry.
We got her out of the cage after a good 40 mins hammering at the padlock, which eventually gave, and we opened the cage door. Milo was gripping to the bottom of the cage with her feet and hands in fear from all the banging. What an ordeal she had gone through?! I was crying for her. I had to get into the cage with her, lying on her urine and poop..(not that I cared one bit about that), and gently sooth her and coax her out….she eventually took my hand and sat up and came out with me.
We walked a bit, and she even gave me a hug, I think more from nerves, and all eyes on her, she wanted to have peace. I had to sign a paper stating that I had seen her, that is WAS her, and that she had been delivered safely to the Phang Nga National Park.
They asked me to choose and enclosure for her, and I advised them on some primate enrichment for her. Given the circumstances, they exceeded my requests in the fastest time. I was called that night to say it would be ready in the morning.
Feb 22nd 2016
I wrote this note of gratitude to all the team involved in rescuing her…..
MY NOTE OF IMMENSE GRATITUDE
Ok….here is Milo today….walking and with her lovely new vet, Dr Songgrid Jearranaisilp Fa, and another amazing park ranger taking care of her.
She is going to be here for a while and then moved to a bigger facility in Ratchaburi. Her enclosure is being filled today with ropes and tires and swings, and things to climb on….she wont know herself!
Thank you ESPECIALLY to all of you who signed the petition, this NEVER would have happened with out that. Edwin Wiek was a key player getting the right officials involved, drafting letters, making calls, keeping me sane, advising me, REALLY pushing the petition….I love this man!
Pete Bethune came all the way from New Zealand to help me with her, advising me, helping me with sanctuaries, and pushing the petition too. Love this man too!
Louise Rogerson for her guidance on how to care for her, and also being at the end of the phone when the going got tough. Nothing but love for you girl!
All the Phuket crew Natasha Eldred, Tim Newton, Chris Husted, Khun Mango Tanyaluk SK, and all at the Phuket News, Isaac Stone Simonelli and Chutharat U’m at the Phuket Gazette, and the local support. Love you all so much!
Diane Fraleigh and Christopher Ewing for their dedication to her and the petition too. Love you very much too!
Richard O’Barry for showing me how to get things done, mentoring me, and guiding me…..
And the biggest heroes! The ones who found her and are caring for her, Khun Roch Forest Walk Tour, and all the DNP Rangers…..thank you!!! You are truly local heroes!!!!!! She loves you all now, and I know she is in good hands!
Guys all of you who signed the petition!!!! LOOK WHAT WE DID!!!!!! We have saved this girls life!!!! All of us! Love you all so much. I just happen to be here physically but this was a massive team effort so pat yourselves on the back and have a toast to Milo!
Feb 22nd – 26th 2016
We arrived to assist Dr Fa in moving Milo to her new temporary enclosure where she will be kept until she is to go to Rachaburi, about an hour and a half from Bangkok. Her enclosure is fantastic, and she is settling in well.
She has been eating better and is already losing weight. She has allowed the vet to take look with no issue (we thought she may struggle, or bite him, but she didn’t), and she has started to make her own bed each day, even washing her blanket yesterday in the little water pool they put inside for her.
We have visited her almost every day and will continue to do so. It is wonderful to see her progress. It has also been an incredible experience for my children. After all the horrors that we witnessed in Taiji, Japan with the dolphins, it is very refreshing and inspiring to have a campaign with a happy ending….and I am sure that day will come at The Cove too.
Milo trusts and loves her new carers, and I am confident her welfare is their utmost priority. I will be back to see her next Tuesday as I have a family reunion in Bangkok this weekend, but her amazing vet Dr Fa has assured that he will keep me updated with photos and calls.
Thank you all for singing the Save Milo petition…it goes to show that they really do work and that your voices count! I can never thank you all enough, nor all the people involved in her rescue.
I will definitely update again soon! I will go with her in the truck when they move her to Rachaburi so please keep following Milos story!