Tiger Temple raided and closed

Tiger Temple raided and closed | Very sad news for tiger lovers: It used to be a paradise for tigers and the #1 tourist destination for lovers of wild cats. But that’s history now. This week the world’s most famous Tiger Temple (Wat Pha Luang Ta Bu Yannasampanno) has been raided and closed. Tiger Temple was located in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Province, west of Bangkok. The buddhist monks living here received their first motherless tiger cubs from villagers in 1999. Numbers constantly went up. 150 tigers were counted in January 2016. The majority of those tigers were Bengal and Indochinese, a few others hybrid breeds. Tourists paid 600 Thai Baht ($16) to enter into this unique site, with additional costs to pet and feed the tigers. Thousands of tourists did flock to it every year. ‘Wat Pha Luang Ta Bu Yannasampanno‘ became the world’s most popular tourist destination for tiger lovers.

Wat Pha Luang Ta Bu Yannasampanno - the Tiger Temple
Wat Pha Luang Ta Bu Yannasampanno – the Tiger Temple

Why did Tiger Temple close?

Tiger Temple raided and closed; the setup: There have been ongoing battles between wildlife groups, Thai Department of National Parks (DNP) and the monks since the beginning of this mini zoo. Several times the DNP tried to confiscate the tigers. Each time the monks somehow held on to their animals. Things looked better recently: The temple applied for a zoo license that would have enabled them to legally continue holding tigers. Such license was provisionally granted, but then revoked soon after for reasons unknown to us. This week, backed by a court order Thai authorities launched a large-scale raid on the tiger temple to confiscate the animals. The 1,000-strong police operation is due to continue all week.

Although workers and volunteers at the temple spoke out against the operation, police and wildlife officials immediately started an operation to remove all tigers from the temple. Pictures from yellowpress journalists at the scene posted to social media showed dead 40 small tiger cubs lined up on a floor. In a Facebook statement, the monks said the mortality rate for tiger cubs at the temple was “comparatively low”. Since 2010 dead newborn tigers have been kept as proof against the allegations of selling cubs. One British who has volunteered with the tigers, told the media that tiger remains were frozen as proof that cubs who died of natural causes were not being sold into any kind of illegal wildlife trade. This might indeed be true, because a number of bodies was found in a state of decay as they have been there over five years. It would seem strange to keep the frozen bodies that long if the intent was to sell them.

Tiger Temple raided and closed
Tiger Temple raided and closed. It used to be a place of harmony between humans and animals.

Tiger Temple Accused of Supplying Black Market

So far nothing is really speaking against the Tiger Temple. “Missing permissions” to keep and breed tigers only means that some people in power did miss out on revenue. No cage was too small. No tiger did starve. In fact the opposite is true. Tigers at the site did live like in paradise. While the tiger population is shrinking dramatically elsewhere, this temple went from 8 to 150 tigers in its 17 years of existence. Crazy allegations were thrown at the monks: speed breeding, black market activities to satisfy Chinese demands (Tiger bones and body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine), illegal cross-border exchange with Laos-based tiger farms, animal torture and whatnot. Nothing has been proven so far.

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