Thailand has officially banned all tiger exhibits in response to animal welfare concerns. But fear not, animal-loving tourists! The authorities have found a suitable replacement for your entertainment: drugged-up homeless “beg-packers” in their natural habitat.
As the last of the tiger exhibits shut their doors, tourist hotspots have been quick to adapt. Instead of tigers lounging in enclosures, visitors can now observe sedated beg-packers – the backpackers who beg or perform on the streets for money – as they sprawl on makeshift beds, strum their out-of-tune guitars, and engage in other thrilling activities.
Beg-packers are essentially backpackers travelling without any money and begging on the streets of popular Thai cities asking for money from locals and tourists alike. Most of them began on “Daddy’s Dime”, typically trust fund babies who’s parents stopped sending them money, leaving them stranded abroad.
“The beg-packers are a perfect addition to our tourist attractions,” says Thai tourism official, Somchai Siam. “They’re low-maintenance, and we only need to provide them with cheap beer and instant noodles to keep them content.”
The beg-packer enclosures have been designed to mimic the backpackers’ natural environment, complete with grungy hostel dorms, communal showers, and endless supplies of questionable street food. Visitors can even participate in interactive experiences, such as dodging projectile vomit from a hungover beg-packer, or attempting to decipher their inebriated ramblings about the meaning of life.
“I never thought I’d enjoy watching beg-packers more than tigers,” says one ecstatic tourist, “but there’s something fascinating about observing them as they try to string together three chords on a guitar or tell stories about their spiritual awakenings in India.”
The change has also been well-received by the beg-packers themselves, who view their newfound fame as a convenient way to fund their travels. “I used to have to put in some real effort to make a few bucks,” says a beg-packer who goes by the name ‘Wanderlust Willie’. “Now, I just lounge around all day, and tourists pay to take selfies with me.”
Thailand’s tourism industry is already reaping the benefits of this ingenious move, with visitors flocking to the beg-packer enclosures in record numbers. It seems that in this wild new world of budget travel, the beg-packers are the kings and queens of the jungle.
“if you feel sorry for them you can throw them some Thai baht through the cages, but they won’t get any of it. These donations go directly to the zoo for upkeep and maintenance. The only way they’re getting out is if mommy & daddy come to rescue them.”