Tiger Temple – Don’t Go

You’ve probably heard of the Tiger Temple or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua in Kanchanaburi, right? Maybe you’ve seen this video on Animal Planet?

Thanks to this video being run for years and is still running several places, Tiger Temple is known all over the world as the place to get up close to the biggest cats in the world. You think it is a place where they care for the well being of tigers? Wrong. Tiger Temple is an illegal money machine. It might have started as a sanctuary for a few tigers rescued from poachers – though there are unconfirmed reports telling otherwise – but the way Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua has been run and is run today is for profit only.

It is not an easy issue to discuss with people with two strong camps – both calling themselves big cat lovers – fighting about the  validity of this project. And telling potential customers that we will not take them there has often been met with disbelief and resulted in lost revenue for us. But we have taken a stand. We will not take people there. And the evidence against the legality and the conservational value for the tigers at the temple far outweigh the arguments for supporting this establishment.

Both Thai and International conservation and animal welfare groups have published reports about this place. And the recurring evidence from those reports are the much the same:

  1. Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua is not a sanctuary. It is a breeding facility.
  2. They do not fulfill the requirements to be a breeding and conservation facility neither according to Thai or International standards and are thus run illegally.
  3. Evidence of several tigers (mostly older males) being sold or exchanged with cubs from a zoo in Laos.
  4. Insufficient safety measures resulting in bites and attacks on staff and visitors. It is only a matter of time before somebody gets seriously injured.
  5. The living conditions for the tigers are not acceptable by any standards with:
  • Too small cages with no stimulating things to keep them occupied.
  • Most of them are kept in their cages up to 20 hours a day and sometimes for days on end.
  • They are poorly fed with cooked food (mostly leftover chicken and fat from pigs) and cat food resulting in malnutrition.
  • Inadequate medical attention from unskilled staff.
  • Numerous reports from visitors and volunteers working there about abuse and mistreatment.
  • Rumors abound that the tigers are being routinely drugged to make them docile, although the volunteers we have spoken to denies this and the investigations have found no evidence of this.

The revenue of the Tiger Temple was estimated at around 40 million Baht a year several years ago. The entrance price has nearly doubled since then and so has the number of visitors. Where all this money is going is a mystery. The tigers living conditions have barely been improved and the temple still relies heavily on volunteer work and donations. And did you know that monks are not supposed to do business in Thailand?

Related video:

If you want to know more you can check www.tigertempletruths.org.

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