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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tiger Temple - Thailand

Some months ago, I put up a blog on my visit to Wat Pa Luangta Bua, tiger sanctuary/animal rescue center just outside of Bangkok. This place offers an experience many would fly from around the world to obtain - an up-close and personal encounter with these big cats. To an animal lover like me, the experience was unbelievable....really, a once-in-a-lifetime chance that I was able to come so close to these tigers as to smell their breath. That experience was simply mind-blowing.

But then an article of this place published recently in The Star, written by Hilary Chiew, presented very disturbing facts. Colleagues at work often leave animal-related clippings on my desk whenever I'm traveling, so thanks to Stephanie who had saved this one for me.

I read in disbelief.... could this be? I mean, how disappointing! Reports from an entity known as CWI (Care for the Wild International) revealing the dark side of things, from details gathered by tourists and volunteers at the temple over the last 2 years. Pictures of the Abbot, the head monk and founder of the Tiger Temple, spraying collected urine in a plastic bottle on a tiger's face, as an act to induce submission and a staff pulling a tiger's tail.

I don't know.... I didn't see this happening while I was there. If I did it would've been so repulsive and atrocious I would've definitely blogged about it! But then again, who knows. There's surely a picture of staff pulling a tiger's tail here and mistreatment of any animal as such is enough to put me off.

One confusing part was regarding Payak, a 4 month-old tiger which I was photographed with just a few months ago. But the article says Payak had already been been exported to Laos for "the exchange of genes" in 2005. Perhaps 'new' tigers take over old names? But if this is so, could this be their scheme to hide the fact that tigers donated/rescued/adopted, that were supposed to be housed and cared for in the monestary or released back into the wild as they claimed, are actually moved out, sold or traded?

that's Payak & me playing - early 2008

I'm also aware that the abbot is gathering funds to build what they call a Tiger Island within the monastry, which is a huge rehab area to house new cubs and younger cats in preparation for their release back into the wild. Now from CWI's investigation, I learnt that the monastry is not licensed to hold or breed tigers because apparently the Thai government had no such facilities and the Department of National Parks in 2005 had allowed the temple to KEEP the tigers but NOT BREED or TRADE the cats. Plus whether they're scientifically competent of the rehabilitation process of these animal is questionable.

Shit. This is fucking bad if the report stands true - the illegal trading/trafficking, inflicting cruelty and mistreatment & overall exploitation of these tigers that are supposed to be under their unconditional care. I mean, I've been there myself and I've seen how the temple promotes animal conservation and protect well-being of all the animals in the monastery... something I'd definitely support which was why I made it point to go there! It seemed like this sanctuary was such a dream come true for us and for the animals!

Besides, the fact that the sanctuary is within a monastery and since the animals there are being looked after by monks, one just can't imagine how animals can be mistreated there, on holy grounds! You know, the temple just gives people a preconceived impression that everything they do in there for the animals must be righteous in the name of Buddhism. That's fucked up.... I guess many things aren't always what they seem....

Well, you guys judge for yourself then.

Chelsia, what do you think? I'm sure you're stunned by this too, huh. (Chelsia Ng, whom many know is a fellow Tiger Ambassador too, has also visited this Tiger Temple recently).

I didn't even meet the Abbot but she did! Wonder if he took her around to the deeper part of the monestary where there're supposed to be more cats but this specific area is not accessible to the public.

For those who want to read more on the report, go to or if you have further questions, write to Hilary at

1 comment:

indiana jones said...

With regards to the notorious Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand - following complaints from tourists and volunteers about tigers being mistreated, international wildlife charity Care for the Wild recently undertook an intensive two year investigation. Their report reveals evidence of 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:

"Thai tiger temple a con job, says wildlife group"
The Straits Times, 21 June 2008:

"UK wildlife group slams Tiger Temple"
Bangkok Post, 27 June 2008:

"Danish tour operator boycotts well-known Thai tourist attraction"
ScandAsia Denmark, 7 July 2008:

Canada: CBC National News, 9 July 2008:

"Danes join boycott of tiger temple"
The Nation, 11 July 2008

"New report says Thai Temple misleads visitors, abuses tigers"
Ethical Traveller, July 2008:

"Paradise Lost"
The Star, 15 July 2008

Spiegel article (in German):,1518,562903,00.html

Additionally, Animal Planet TV channel have now dropped their programme on the Temple.