At least forty dead tiger cubs have been found stuffed in a freezer at the infamous, controversial Tiger Temple in Thailand. Accused of wildlife trafficking and severe animal abuse, the Buddhist temple was raided by police officers who removed all the living tigers from the exhibit. Pictures quickly made their way to social media, where the world’s heart sank at the sight of the forty cubs lined up on the floor.
The site, located in Kanchanaburi, is a rather popular tourist attraction where tourists could take “selfies” with the tiger population. After the raid, it remains unclear if the temple will ever re-open.
Despite the sheer horror of what this actually is, this isn’t the temple’s first shine of controversy in local and global affairs. The Tiger Temple, also known as Wat Pha Luang Ta Bu Yannasampanno, is located west of Bangkok in the aforementioned Kanchanaburi Province. It received its first tiger cub in 1999, sparking the first hint of controversy in media. Within the next year, the temple gained an additional seven more. By 2016, at least 137 tigers have been recorded by the temple itself.
What kind of tigers are we talking about? While a majority are Bengal tigers, hybrid breeds are said to reside within the halls as well. Tigers are not the only animal being abused in this affair, either. Jackals, bears, and hornbills were found. What wasn’t found? The necessary permits and living conditions required to even have these animals.
People have flocked in hoards to the Tiger Temple in the past, being charged 600 Thai Baht ($16, £11) for simply entering the front gate. Tourists are oftentimes charged additional money to take pictures, feed, or pet the animals. This is what I find shockingly horrifying. It’s just like when ignorant, idiot tourists killed a baby dolphin in order to get pictures of it. What the fuck is wrong with society?
People paid the Thai Buddhist temple to keep an illegal animal trafficking, abusive company afloat in terms of business expenditure!
The Buddhist monks who run the temple have been running from accusations for years now, battling wildlife groups since at least 2001. National Geographic reported that the monks were operating a for-profit breeding business as late as 2016, yet people still came by the thousands to get a look at the poor animals. Former workers have come forward, claiming the animals are beaten, victims of malnutrition, and in desperate need of veterinary care in the form of physical checkups and dentistry. Sources informed the BBC have claimed that the tigers slept in small concrete cages.
The Department of National Parks, also known as the DNP, has repeatedly tried to confiscate the tigers. However, the monks refused to let representatives enter the building. Thus, the police strike was finally organized. If the monks weren’t willing to conduct a rescue diplomatically, the police required to conduct it via force.
Tiger bones and body parts are used in traditional “voo-doo” like Chinese medicine, leading officials to believe the for-profit stories foreshadowed by several reporting sources. As of June 3rd, the monks of the temple were not available for comment – but their previous claims have denied trafficking and abuse allegations.