Monday, December 15, 2008

The Tiger Temple

A place where tourists can pet tigers just like they do their cats, here’s something
you don’t see every day.

The Tiger Temple, or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua is Theravada Buddhist forest temple,in Thailand. It has been a sanctuary for many endangered animals for quite some time now, including several tigers.
It was founded in 1994 as a forest monastery, where animals could find sanctuary and in 1999 they received their first tiger cub, which died soon after. But they kept receiving tiger cubs from the villagers who probably encountered them wondering through the forest after their mothers were killed by poachers. The Tiger has raised money over the years and can now accommodate 12 mature tigers and 4 cubs. they live in cages and once a day they are taken to a nearby quarry, where they can roam freely. Tourists may watch from 10 meters distance and sometimes they are allowed to pet these magnificent creatures. Only one serious attack took place in the history of the temple.
The priests at the Tiger Temple are now gathering funds to build a larger facility and create an almost natural environment for the animals, so they can one day be let out into the wild where they belong.
In case you’re wondering, yes this is the place featured on Animal Planet.



With regards to the notorious Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand: following repeated complaints from tourists and volunteers working at the temple about tigers being shockingly mistreated there, Care for the Wild International (CWI) undertook an intensive two year investigation. The resulting CWI report reveals illegal wildlife trade, animal cruelty, false conservation claims and visitor safety risks at the Temple.

You can read the report at:

This issue has widespread media coverage:

CWI's press release - "Illegal tiger trade, cruelty and human health hazards at famous tourist destination":

"Black market tigers linked to Thai Temple, Reports says"
National Geographic News, 20 June 2008:

It's an extremely tricky subject to deal with, as the Tiger Temple recieves such mixed reviews. Many people go there in good faith and, either through cultural differences or lack of animal welfare knowledge, genuinely see nothing wrong with the Temple. I've read many outraged blogs claiming that the tigers are 'happy' there and 'at least they're safe from poachers'. I see great irony in this, as the tigers were originally poached to supply the Temple with a tourist attraction! Other visitors who have a higher awareness of such issues are rightly appalled at the conditions and treatment of the tigers.


Animal Planet have now removed the Tiger Temple documentary from their viewing schedule in protest of the appalling conditions there.

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