The Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi Thailand

The Tiger Temple

The infamous Thailand Tiger Temple is located at Kanchanaburi, a couple of hours drive from Bangkok. It is very popular with visitors to Thailand and many people end up visiting either directly or as part of a combination tour. Some visitors actually make the trip to Thailand specifically to visit the Tiger Temple!

Many people are thrilled by the prospect of close contact with a big cat and so having a photograph taken next to a large tiger is an opportunity which few fail to miss. Such visits are generally short and the cocktail of emotions generated by adrenaline, exotic location and new experiences tends to cloud judgement as to what is really happening here. People will usually read and believe the first story they see in print and the Tiger Temple is a fairy story. A fabrication.

The whole junked up story has not been helped by the likes of 'Animal Planet' which, whilst making good television dresses the whole bad practice as something wonderful.

The Tiger Temple gets a lot of 'good' press because the people doing the reporting are actually ignorant of what they are reporting about. They ramble on about conservation and breeding programmes without understanding either. It is actually difficult to be critical of what is going on without being seen to be somehow criticising some Buddhist principle. Most Thai people would not dare to speak out as this would be to offend a monk or the abbot. The temple is not popular with all Buddhists who see it as not in line with Theravada principles.

The Temple claims to have consulted with experts in Tigers and invited them to give advise and educate the staff. Why is it that not one of these 'experts' is prepared to stand up and be counted.

The Tiger Temple has its own web site. It is even more commercial than most commercial web sites. This Temple, or the 'Foundation' behind it are after money and nothing else. There is no real care or concern or even understanding of the animals they keep. One wonders about the 'Foundation' and who they consist of. I believe a clue may be found in the links from the Tiger Temple web site. Not unexpectedly one finds that Sri Racha Tiger Zoo is there, the so called 'Dolphin Sanctuary' too and the Million Year Stone Park. Animal exploiters all. Consider that up to a thousand or so tourists visit the temple each afternoon. Without even considering how much each one pays to get into the temple area there is the fifty or so US Dollars for a photograph with a tiger. Big money is being made here. It IS commercial.

The origins of the tigers at the temple as told appears a probable story. The first animals, cubs, were rescue animals which were reared by monks within the temple. The intention had been to release them back to the wild once mature. The story is only partially true however. A few cubs were rescued but others were actually purchased from an animal dealer. Very quickly someone realised that visitors to the temple were thrilled to be close to the tigers and prepared to pay for the pleasure. So there on started the exploitation of the tigers. Commercial greed took the place of a fictional story of charitable care. The Tigers had to stay.

Whatever the story it never really was a realistic option to release hand reared humanised tigers back into the wild but it makes a very nice story for that gullible element of the press.

The worst news of all was that in mid August 2009 that the Tiger Temple was granted permission to become a zoo. See: Tiger Temple becomes a Zoo. There is a certain element who is delighted about this change in status. It makes a mockery of the fact that previously the Tiger Temple claimed to be a Sanctuary. It is all in a name though. Wild animals in captivity.

That such a consideration should be even thought about let alone actually granted defies common sense.

There is perhaps a notion that tigers have been kept at the temple for hundreds of years, that it is a long established protocol. Nothing could be further from the truth. The first tiger cub to arrive was in 1999...just ten years ago.

 

Thrilled to be so close to a Tiger

Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahbaker/
Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahbaker/

There is actually a Facebook cause called Ban The Tiger Temple! which I believe is well worth your joining. I did as soon as I learnt of its existence. Okay I may not have the same political views of many of the members who I suspect may well be 'anti-zoo' but here I agree. This awful place, this conservation lie must be exposed and closed. Sadly the Tiger Temple is given credibility by the visits of uninformed politicians and the likes of the popular but equally uninformed Craig Busch, formerly of Zion Wildlife Gardens.

The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand also have their own Facebook page which is well worth looking at. In particular the extensive damning correspondence surrounding the subject Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi is nothing but a sordid theme park...

Pretty girl and Tiger

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwwchun_bangkokcom/
Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwwchun_bangkokcom/

Letter from the International Tiger Coalition

On October 7th 2008 the International Tiger Coalition wrote to Mr Chaleermsak Wanichsombat, the Director General of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department to express their concerns over their 'concern about the captive breeding and trans-border movements of tigers by the Tiger Temple at Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno Forest Monastery in Kanchanaburi and about the facility's claims to support tiger conservation.'

It is interesting to note that the International Tiger Coalition is made up of an alliance of some 39 organisations but does not include SEAZA, the one regional organisation that should be taking a prominent role in any discussion. The Coalition does include BIAZA, IFAW, BORN FREE, Association of Zoos & Aquariums, WAZA, WSPA, ZSL and many others.

The letter from the International Tiger Coalition goes on to say:

' Our second concern relates to tiger breeding at the Wat Pa Luangta Bua facility, which has no credible connection with accredited conservation breeding programmes that are deemed to support the survival of wild tigers. You may be aware that in 2007, CITES adopted Decision 14.69 which states that “Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives”. It should first be noted that circumstances in which the release of captive-bred tigers to the wild can make a contribution to the conservation of wild tigers are virtually non-existent.'

The Coalition is genuinely concerned and goes on to say:

' We welcome your plans to commission genetic testing of the tigers held at Wat Pa Luangta Bua to determine their subspecies and pedigree. However, we note that whatever the results of these tests may be, breeding of tigers ex situ makes no contribution whatsoever to wild tiger conservation unless the animals are included in a multi-institutional conservation breeding programme carefully designed and managed so as to generate conservation benefits. Wat Pa Luangta Bua does not have the facilities, the skills, the relationships with accredited zoos, or even the desire to manage its tigers in an appropriate fashion. Instead, it is motivated both in display of the tigers to tourists and in its illegal trading of tigers purely by profit. We appeal to you most strongly to remove all tigers from Wat Pa Luangta Bua and transfer them to a
more suitable and safe sanctuary facility, where the animals can be accommodated and cared for appropriately and that will not allow for additional breeding
.'

Reply to the International Tiger Coalition

 

Long way to nowhere

Going by the answer to the Tiger Coalition and the reply in February 2009 it seems that, going by this 'zoo' decision in mid August 2009 that we have got nowhere. In fact the situation is worse than it was before. I suppose that with a 'zoo' license it is only a matter of time that they obtain white tigers to add to their menagerie.

I have had a lot of private correspondence surrounding this awful place and am convinced that Thailand must close it down if it is to be seen to be serious about conservation issues.

 

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13bobby/
Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13bobby/

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Comments 55 comments

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

It's disturbing to hear that this is actually going on and that it's linked to Theravadan Buddhist Monks, Peter. Buddhism really is, for all intents and purposes, THE anti-capitalist religion!

It's my belief that the monks have good intentions, but the director really runs the show (circus, whatever) as the monks and abbot most likely has little or no control over the operation of the Tiger Temple. I don't understand how there even is a correlation between monks and tigers...It just doesn't make sense to me.

But I'm for the cause, Peter. Great job bringing this to our attention! Thank you.


Mac Mission profile image

Mac Mission 7 years ago from bangalore

Environment makes changes.I have read the articles written in olden days in Indian article. Environment changes bad person to good one. It has been proved.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Mac Mission - I am not quite sure that I understand what you mean. If you are suggesting that petting tigers somehow makes people better people then there is an element of truth. It has been shown that people benefit from a degree of meditative calm from stroking a domestic cat. Then stroke cats! Do not pull tigers from their mothers, trade tigers illegally, breed irresponsibly, beat tigers, drug tigers and try and dress the whole thing up as a wonderful form of Buddhist conservation.


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 7 years ago from SE Thailand

Well done Peter, brilliant article and I'm just about to sign up for the FaceBook 'Ban'. How do we teach these people? They seem to misinterpret everything!!


kephrira profile image

kephrira 7 years ago from Birmingham

I admire your concern for the animals here, but I would still love to go and I bet the conditions they are in is no worse and probably better than zoo's where they are stuck in a cage with no stimulation all day.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

kephrira - you should read some of my hubs on zoos. Making such a sweeping statement puts them all in the same box and that is wrong. I understand you would get a kick out of being so close to a tiger or any big cat...I have experienced it and so I know. Any sort of adrenaline rush can be pleasant.

The tigers here at the temple are drugged, beaten, illegally traded, pulled unnecessarily from their mothers for hand rearing, bred unresponsibly and unnecessarily. So I suppose it would be six of one and half a dozen of the other for some zoos but good zoos, responsible zoos would do none of these things. This is pure commercial greed. There is no real concern for the animals at all. Someone, somewhere is making a lot of money..


Debbie Gee profile image

Debbie Gee 7 years ago from California

Nice exciting article!! i enjoyed photos...

Thanks!


joeyoung profile image

joeyoung 7 years ago from New England

Interesting info here Peter, will continue to follow it.

- joe


Kim Garcia 7 years ago

Amazing article Peter. Very informative as I had no idea that a place like this even existed. Extremely unjust treatment of these wild animals, and I thank you for taking a stand and educating the public about this. What can be done about the mistreatment of these tigers?? Peace n' Blessings! ~K


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

There are questions being asked in high places Kim. There are people working to sort the problems out. Politics!


Nicole Winter profile image

Nicole Winter 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

Peter Dickinson: Thank-you so much for publishing this article. The tigers to appear to be in good health from the pictures shown, but there seems to be something really wrong with them that they'd allow so much human contact, being pet like that is severely unnatural for them! They must be drugged, what a terrible thing for the curators to do. I'm going to join your cause on Facebook, thank-you for bringing this to our attention.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Nicole. Please pass the message along because it looks like the only way anything is going to change is if there is universal condemnation.


Ron Hedges 6 years ago

I visit the Temple regularly when I reside in Hua Hin Thailand. Compassion is as compassion does. The animals are clearly contented and well kept. In fact I have never seen Tigers in better condition or so at ease with their surroundings. The tiger is doomed to extinction in the wild and whilst there is no evidence of malpractice I shall continue to visit and support the Temple. I suspect the vast majority of detractors have never been anywhere near Kanchanaburi.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Sorry Ron. What you are seeing is the shop front with all the dressing up. There is ample evidence of malpractice.


richard 6 years ago

i am here at the temple right now as a volunteer

i am the first person up with the tigers in the morning and one of the last to leave at night and can honestly say these tigers are not drugged in fact they have better medical care than most thai people get... i have seen with my own eyes that the abbot is activley suporting re-forestation projects, education in the local community... tell me what are you doing to try to help or are you just another dick head sitting in an air conditation room pissing on another country from a safe distance... you have pleanty to say so how about you roll up your sleaves and get your ass here and prove me wrong... i bet i don't see you because people like you never bother to do anything that might prove you wrong!!!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Richard - You cannot see the wood for the trees. The evidence is above. There is a great deal more unpublished. The Tiger Temple is, as is described above.


Richard 6 years ago

well not from what i see and i'm here in the temple... so come and show me where is your proof not here-say show me the evidence... when push comes to shove no one can produce a single scrap... the invite is out there put up or shut up!!!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Richard, I don't doubt you have a good heart and 'volunteer' with the best of intentions (how much do you pay for the 'privilige'?) or perhaps you are a paid lackey?. It is fairly obvious from what you have said in your two comments that you have not fully read the article above nor followed the links from it or you would have a greater understanding of what I am saying. The proof is there!

*This place is a purely commercial operation.

*Cubs are unnecessarily and cruelly removed from their dams for hand rearing.Read: http://hubpages.com/animals/Hand-Rearing-Big-Cats-...

*There is NO breeding programme involvement. Read:http://hubpages.com/animals/Zoo-Breeding-Programme...

*There is nothing clever, wonderful, spiritual about interacting with hand reared tigers.

*The Tiger Temple is trading tigers.

*The Tiger Temple does nothing, nothing at all for conservation.

I could go on. Read the evidence yourself. It is not just me. It is every person with just a bit of knowledge about big cats and conservation and breeding programmes which say the same. You obviously lack this knowledge so please do a bit of reading. Why not write your own hub? Look to the top right of this one, you should see a green 'create your own button' ..click on it and tell the world what you know, or don't know. Put up or shut up!!


Ron Hedges 6 years ago

I note that my post regarding that cats of all sizes routinely given sedative drugs die and the suggestion that critics make their way to China has been deleted. Now there is a surprise! It is abundantly clear that this site is devoted purely to the views or rather prejudices of Dickinson. As with most misinformed do gooders they resort to abuse when cornered e.g. calling someone a lackey.

So O.K. Mr Dickinson as you say Put up or Shut Up, how many times have so been to the Temple and had full access to the entire site as I have ?????????????


Ron Hedges 6 years ago

I have just noticed the banner.....Hub Pages Publish and Earn. So Mr Dickinson. Is this your little shp front for your rant. How much of a little earner are you making. At the risk of another post being deleted. Why not leave the safety of wherever you are and go to justfiably rant in China about real Tiger farms for body parts. See how long it would take for you to get nicked and locked up.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Ron Hedges - The post you refer to you have never posted. You must have had a dream. What happens in China has no relation to the Tiger Temple. When people bring up such comparisons it is confusing. What would you be trying to say. That there is bad in China so the bad in the Tiger Temple is okay? Unless the posting contains bad language I do not delete. This has nothing to do with me but to educate people who have been brainwashed and fail to understand just what is going on. You, like Richard, who is obviously a colleague, refuse to read the evidence of others and experts. Ignore everything I have said. Follow the links...the available evidence and do your own bit of research. As far as the use of the word 'lackey' was that any worse than Richard referring to me as 'dick head'...I think not. It was he too that first used 'Put up or Shut up'.

You have been taken in Mr Hedges. I meet and hear from a lot of people like yourself who fail to understand what keeping animals in captivity is all about. You get a kick out of relating to the tigers...I understand that but it does not make what is going on there right or correct. The Tiger Temple is a purely exploitative commercial enterprise that does nothing for conservation, education, breeding programmes or tigers. I hate places like that. I don't need access to the Temple. I have read other volunteers testimonies both public and private. I have read the exposes. Even if there was none of these there would still be no conservation, education or breeding programmes. I don't know you Ron, don't want to either particularily. It sounds like you may be one of the shadowy shareholders behind this nasty commercial venture. End of discussion unless there is something brand new you can come up with.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Oh sorry...some sort of glitch Mr Hedges. Your China comment came in afterwards...so it is there. I do 'rant' about other apalling collections too. Sri Racha, Phuket and others.

Funnily enough two of my best zoos in Asia were in China. I would if I was you look into the tiger body part side of things...but you might not like what you find.


Ron Hedges 6 years ago

Oh indeed certainly new. Common failings with persons like yourself are the making of totally unfounded assumptions and accusations that have no grounds whatsoever. I am not a colleague of anyone at the Temple nor am I as you unpleasantly suggest a shareholder. Cheap shots indeed. I am in fact as retired UK police detective somewhat more qualified than yourself in sifting and examining evidence in a disinterested manner. You may perhaps need to consult a dictionary to see the difference between uninterested and disinterested. I have not been taken in Mr Dickinson I have seen the evidence with my own eyes. Now lets cut to the chase. How many times have you been there? I shall be resident in my home in Hua Hin from Christmas Day through to September. When would you like to meet at the Temple? I am not particularly averse to meeting you and as I am also a qualified teacher I relish the opportunity in educating you about investigation and research. I will even collect you and drive you and pay all fees. I presume that your intimate knowledge of the Temple is based on the fact that you live in Thailand. Abuse in one part of the world does not negate the abuses elsewhere. Of that we are of one accord.You must come terms with the fact however that conservationists have to ply their trade in the real world and believe me if you do not understand that conservation is a trade then you are living in a dream world. The garden of Eden no longer exists. Wildlife has to pay to stay. Fact, there is no such thing as a free lunch. If there is a little commercialism taking place at the temple it is no more than happens in India with Elephant rides through the national parks attempting to see one of the decreasing two thousand wild tigers.If tourists being close to temple tigers leave as nearly all do impressed by the power and majesty of the animals and form a view they must be saved then the Temple is doing a good deal more than yourself. It is clear that you are totally against any wild creature being kept in captivity, an activity that has saved Pere David's Deer, Arabian Oryx, European Bison and Golden Tamarind to name a few.

So when can we meet in Thailand. I will pay for the lunch.


Ron Hedges 6 years ago

Do you have any hard evidence of body part trading from the Temple? I mean real evidence not anecdotal rubbish. I am sure that if there was even a hint of REAL evidence Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand would not be financing a major project.


Ron Hedges 6 years ago

Incidentally the two previous posts were not dreams as you might suggest. I really really did type them, honestly.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Ron - a little bit of detective work would show you that I have worked actively in zoos for forty years. I do know what I am talking about in spite of what you believe. I ask you once again to read the evidence and ignore what I have said. As a teacher do your own research. Ignore what I have said. Forget lunch. Thanks. Positively the end of discussion. Good luck.


Royston Fairbother 6 years ago

I guess Ron thinks seeing the evidences counts more than reading what someone else might not have seen themselves.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Royston - What I have done is pull together the 'facts'. No different to a historian or biographer and hardly a reason for getting upset. The witness statements are there in the links. If someone were to actually read this article...I mean really read it including the links and my other comments submitted above then they would perhaps just begin to see that there is another side to whatever it is they previously believed. These are hybrid tigers and so of no use to conservation. The Tiger Temple is not saving tigers, neither do they care too. All they are doing is providing a cheap (well perhaps not so cheap since they put the price up) thrill to the gullible. I can actually understand that and the commercial implications. Must be nice to have a large framed photo of yourself and a tiger together. A memory of a 'magic moment',

I know a bit more than Ron about conservation. He quotes Pere David Deer...has he ever worked with them? I have. He quotes Arabian Oryx...has he ever worked with them? I have, and in fact played a very important role in building the numbers up to what they are today. I have never worked with a Golden Tamarind which I imagine is a cultivar of the bushy tree which has its origins in Africa.

I have also worked with Tigers and have talked with and corresponded with previous volunteers at the Tiger Temple as well as reading the official reports from conservation and investigative bodies.

My future answers to comments will be 'read the article and read the links' because those who negatively comment have not done either. Pity.


Royston Fairbrother 6 years ago

I have just read your comment and the whole thread again and read up on the subjects. I find it odd that you ask plenty of questions of Ron but you never reply to any that he asks of you. I am rather concerned about the fact that he asked you several times but you steadfastly refuse to say whether you have ever been to the temple to investigate it yourself. The problem seems to me that in these circumstances the site manager has the whip hand and can cut short or be selective about what is posted. Looking at the tone of the thread I suspect that Mr Hedges would not just give up on it and probably had a bit more to say before you ended the discussion at a convenient point.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Royston - I actually believe that you and Ron are the same person. The evidence is there. I stand by all I have said. End of discussion.


Holly 6 years ago

Honestly guys, not worth fighting over. I am a pre-vet student in the US and have a passion for tigers, especially bengal, there is a program at our local zoo to allow people to play with cubs. They are hand raised from 4 weeks out of a conservatory in the next state over. They 2 cubs each year are allowed 3 visits 4 days a week from the time they are 6weeks to 6months old. It is an amazing expirience to play with these young cubs. Everyperson before they go in is handed clean surgical gowns and uses instant hand sanitizer all the way up their arms. Once the cubs are older they are not allowed to meet the public, however they do continue their interactions with humans the rest of their lives and are very calm and tame. Some years they go back to the sanctuary and some times they stay in the zoo. Anyway, this brief interaction with a tiger is what inspired me to change my major from equine to zoological medicine. People who get the chance to interact and meet one of these amazing animals do become more active in conservation efforts and are more likely to donate to WWF or other organizations that support conservation of them. I would love the chance to visit the temple myself hopefully once I am done with school and learn more about the inside workings of the temple. Do they let the same tiger be the main attraction everyday? Are precautions taken to keep the animal healthy such as hand sanitizer for the people? And how many people are allowed to meet the tiger everyday? Do the tigers get a "day off"? All things like this need to be considered before I would damn the place. These brief interactions have probably spurned allot of actual conservation efforts in the people who have been able to visit. If these monks are feeding the tigers, and not harming them physically to get the calm reaction out of them then really I do not see the problem. A lot more harm is done by the people who think they can raise a tiger in their house and then too late realise its a big animal so they just throw them out and expect them to survive in the wild. I do not know if this is a problem with tigers but I know it is with lions. Anyway, I would like to visit and meet the tigers and monks for myself before passing judgement.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Holly - It IS worth fighting over. Did you read this article? Did you read the letter from the International Tiger Coalition? If you aspire to be a zoo vet then consider why the good zoos of the world condemn this place.


Snow Leopard 6 years ago

Anyone who has worked with or around tigers in a healthy environment will know that there is something fundamentally wrong in the background when you have the scenario of these animals being handled. Even a gentle tiger will turn into a killing machine at the drop of a hat, and that's how it should be. People are fooling themselves if they think otherwise, sorry. Open you eyes!


Stargirl 6 years ago

I used to work for the Tiger Temple (and still live in Kanchanaburi almost a year later having regular contact with volunteers when they visit the town - you can't miss them!) and as the time wore on, the sugar coated exterior faded quickly. The views of the volunteers are extreme as when you get there you are quickly 'programmed' (wherever you admit it or not!) to recite whatever crap the managers give you. Nobody i have spoken too out of many, many groups of volunteers have put forward any independent research they have conducted.. just happy to parrot what they are told!

A doctor working as a volunteer suggested that one of the (illegally caged) bears (there are still 2 alive there behind the scenes in tiny cages!) had cancer as he could not swallow food without been sick. The vet (Dr Death) replied that it couldn't have cancer, as if it had cancer then all its hair would have fallen out!! Don't forget the 2 lions who were traded for tigers a few years ago but who were impossible to 'imprint' to get them used to humans live in a tiny, bare cage by the bear enclosure and are reaching sexual maturity. I heard they had started to mate and were seperated, but when i went to check they were still in the same cage. This cage is so small it is impossible for them to run and it is cleaned by a power hose pointed through the bars while the lions are hiding from fear. We used to freeze giant ice cubes as toys for them, as if the abbott saw any toys in their cage he would hit the roof and the ice would melt before he did his nightly 'inspection'.

When a tiger gives birth at the temple, it is never known that they were ever pregnant. They give birth and a few days later the cubs are brought out to the sala for breakfast with tourists who pay around £100 each for the pleasure.

The list of atrocities goes on and on and on.. no matter what the new volunteers that come every month claim, this place is a sham! I used to defend the place solidly and now feel like a fool for doing so.


Stargirl 6 years ago

Sorry i didn't proof read very well! I missed out that the lions are brother and sister.

1. Do they let the same tiger be the main attraction everyday? There are around 60 tigers at the temple now, although the number changes almost daily as tigers are removed and new cubs are born. They generally have a litter of cubs every 2 months.

Are precautions taken to keep the animal healthy such as hand sanitizer for the people? Tourists playing with cubs (under 4 months) are asked to wash their hands. No sanitiser is offered.

And how many people are allowed to meet the tiger everyday?

The temple sell the cub experience for £30 and allow from 4 to 6 people (depending on the 'confidence' of the staff member supervising) play with the tigers for 45 minutes. There are between 3 and 5 sessions per day, 7 days a week with the same 4 cubs until there are younger baby tigers available. Cubs usually do this routine for around 3 months. In the 'canyon' a chained tiger of any age can be petted over 1000 times a day. There is not much rotation of tigers as they can only allow the very tamest into the canyon (although they do sometimes chain up extremely dangerous tigers at the back and tourists are not led to them - they CAN and HAVE pulled their chains and concrete blocks from the floor and walked back to their cages). Dangerous tigers are allowed out of their cages on the whim of a Canadian worker every few months, although last time this happened a volunteer nearly lost his arm and had to endure several months of surgical procedures.

Do the tigers get a "day off" Only if they are too aggressive to be handled by the public, in which case they can have days, months or in the case of at least one elderly tiger, a lifetime stuck in a cage.

Do your research before you volunteer here! Also consider that alot of people will not talk negative even if it is the truth as Kanchanaburi is a very small town and everyone knows everyone if they have been here a while! The temple is owned by some of the most powerful people in Thailand. This is why help for these tigers must come from OUTSIDE the Land of Smiles! Spread the word!


Zoo Keeper 6 years ago

http://www.cwiftp.co.uk/web_files/TigerTemplerepor...

Link to the report from "Care For The Wild International"

Supports and confirms everything Peter has said.

Thanks again Peter for another great article.

I hope these idiots who go to visit the place will learn that they are taking money away from real conservation projects, and that the volunteers who work there are being exploited.


Zoo Keeper 6 years ago

@ Holly:

Hand sanitizer and having people play with a baby tiger in a zoo does not keep it mentally healthy!

As a potential vet, you should realise that taking a baby animal from its mother unnecessarily (for commercial purposes at your local "zoo" and at the tiger temple) does not allow it to develop into a well adjusted animal. I have worked with adult hand-reared tigers in a zoo and these animals had no idea that they were tigers. They could not relate to each other as parent reared tigers can, they craved human interaction and are DANGEROUS!

In addition, by taking babies from their mothers, they do not receive adequate nutrition. Again, I have worked with adult animals who were hand-reared for commercial purposes using inadequate diets (there is NO substitute for parental nutrition) who in adulthood had bone problems, eye problems and most likely other physical defects also.

Holly, perhaps you should do a bit more research and think about changing back to equine studies?


Rozaan 6 years ago

I am also working in a zoo and worked my way up to curator over the carnivore section of the zoo so yes I do have experience in Tigers if somebody reading my post.

I also agree with "zoo keeper says" that it is hard work to hand reared a Tiger and keep them healthy! Even the most specialized milk don't even come close to the mothers milk even if you try to get it as close to mothers milk as you can it is not the same!

I visited the temple back in 2005 and as a young zoo keeper I was very excited and boy was I disappointed as soon as I step through the gates!! I didn't even sit for a picture cause I decided that its not worth it! I could see right away that there is something wrong with the tigers - if you actually have to lift a tigers head put it in a water bowl to drink water or drag it into the shade - it shout load and clear that there is something wrong and then I am not even going to talk about the volunteers those who was there when I was there.....no really!!

I want to thank Peter for your hard work....I support you 100%!!!


Tanja Bower 6 years ago

It is absolutely heart breaking.

Problem with governments are they don't want to realise that something is wrong- ignorance is bliss. I think the only way to crack this case is if everyone unites. I am not going to deny it, I have been there and seen the situation for myself. I went because animal planet showed a place where tigers are kept safe and you could go up and meet them - personally. I was excited, BUT, then I got to see the truth and my heart broke for all those animals. In a way I am pleased I went, as I can say I have seen the faced and the maltreatment with my own eyes, taken photographic evidence, and film footage of the appalling conditions (Its not just the tigers, its all the animals that live there). Me when something REALLY annoys and upsets me. I DO something about it, and the person or organisation at the other end better watch out. I have dealt with greedy pigs before- not in the same category- rent money and stealing deposits is not quite the same, but I went up against a large organisation, and almost got the bailiffs on them-they decided to give me my money in the end. This is an illustration no matter how many brick walls, if we all have sledge hammers, we can break through and get the justice.

That is what I intend to do, I have spoken out alone- one voice is simply not enough. The more voices that say NO, the more power of persuasion we have. If you are with me, please sign the tiger temple petition The Link: http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?... I also have a cause on facebook: Ban the Tiger Temple.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Tanja - Good luck with the petition. When I clicked on the link it did not go through. There is a stray (,) at the end. Remove that and it works fine. Best Wishes.


David 6 years ago

Hi Peter, and thank you for this article.

Myself and some other individuals with wildlife organisation connections have recently started the website www.tigertempletruths.org, which fully supports the Care for the Wild report, and gathers much of the photo and video evidence currently spread around the internet into one website.

I would recommend anyone considering visiting or volunteering at the Tiger Temple read through the website before doing so!

Kind Regards,

David


elkangorito 6 years ago from Thailand

I have lived in Thailand for about 4 years. Corruption here is epidemic & exists at all levels. Further, "Thai Buddhism" is far from authentic Buddhism.

I do not agree with the confinement of animals in any way, which means that I do not agree with zoos.

Disregarding what anybody has said about this particular establishment, I can easily believe that it's existance is NOT for the benefit of any tigers.

My only recommendation is that any Thai establishment that "keeps" animals for the entertainment of humans, be boycotted. Animal welfare has a lower rank than human welfare in Thailand. This being the case, I'd hate to be any kind of animal unfortunate enough to visit/reside in Thailand.


Dan Shriver 6 years ago

I am very sad to hear what is going on at the Tiger Temple.

I visited there in 2005 and, at that time, saw no evidence of mistreatment (but I was only there an afternoon).

One couple visited in 2006 and stayed there and got to deal with the tigers for several days. At that time (when they went) the tigers seemed to be relatively well treated (as far as they saw).

http://www.tigertemple.co.uk/story.htm

That is the report of their time there, if you see the 'home' link they do not dispute any of the claims against the temple that have been lodged since....

The "Care for the wild" report mentioned elsewhere in this thread is extremely damning evidence. It indicates conditions in the Temple have deteriorated and that tigers are routinely being beaten. It has photographs of tigers being beaten, tails being twisted... quite sad.

I would strongly disagree with all those in this thread who seem to have some ideological bent about "tigers not interacting with humans". Short of being in the wild (where they hunt and keep active) tigers (like most other mammals) require some amount of mental stimulation. I have yet to see a zoo where this need it met. In my direct observation of big cats in the many different zoos around the world I have never seen them looking happy (incessant pacing in any felid is a sign of boredom and frustration). The people who run zoos (much like the people at the tiger temple) trick themselves into believing they are giving the tigers a good mental and physical environment. Really zoos are only good at being genetic repositories (they do a good job of this and it is necessary), and places for people to see animals at a distance.

The best possible institutional home for great cats would be something -like- the tiger temple EXCEPT that it would have to care for the tigers properly (which they do not seem to be doing). It is true that there is a danger in people interacting with tigers, but this is no reason not to do it. People drive cars even though there is always the danger of fatal accidents. People climb mountains even though there are risks there.... Even with the tiger temple mistreating its animals no one has died there yet (there have been injuries though) and they have had a ton of visitors (so I'd say the danger level isn't as high as some posters state). I went there realizing that something could happen and I could be mauled or killed, and (were it not for the fact that the tigers aren't properly cared for) I'd gladly go back and take the risks all over again.

If the tiger temple could be 'reformed' or the tigers given to a place like the temple (except one that treats the cats with love and respect) that would be an ideal situation.

Aside from putting pressure on the Temple via the Thai legal system people could also try to shame it in the public eye through the same international media it got so many visitors from (that might cut down the number of visitors). Likewise, if people took the plight of the animals at the temple to other Buddhist temples and institutions in Thailand perhaps those other abbots could shame the abbot at the tiger temple into doing the right thing (beating any animal is not an acceptable practice in Buddhism).


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you Dan for your comment and point of view. I don't actually share all of your opinions but I am delighted you read the article, links and others comments. Thanks again.


stars439 profile image

stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Love this hub.


kristiene profile image

kristiene 6 years ago from philippines

thank you for sharing this!! fantastic as well as the images ... http://www.unique-spots.com/

i am bengal fanatic :)


Tranquilheart profile image

Tranquilheart 5 years ago from Canada

Another sad example of something too good to be true.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

Tranquilheart - Sadly yes. Greed and cruel animal exploitation at its very worst.


fastfist99 5 years ago

Dohn121 ....The Abbot of the temple has full control of the temple and the tigers.


tiger keeper 5 years ago

I am a zoo keeper who works with tigers. I have had the privilage of helping to hand rear two Amur tigers so i understand how exciting and wonderful it is to be that close to a tiger. However there is nothing better than seeing tigers behave as tigers. They are such majestic creatures and should not be mauled about all day by tourists! There is nothing magical about being close to a tiger that has lost its soul to the point that it will allow people to cuddle up to it. These poor animals deserve better than that. Keep up the good work Peter, i always strive to get the point across to members of the public at the zoo i work at.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you tiger keeper.


Prisana profile image

Prisana 5 years ago from Thailand and Colorado

I commend you for your excellent hub. I published several articles regarding Thailand's last remaining wild tigers back in the 1990s and had planned on writing about the Tiger Temple in recent years but still have not seen the place. Your hub confirmed everything that I had suspected. Truly heartbreaking.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

@Prisana - Thank you. Some caution may be required if you take photos at the Tiger Temple.


javier ninyo 4 years ago

I was recently in Thailandia and could be in that "temple" and pet tigers were there.

I preferred not to have done, it was with pity and the feeling I got was a lie I'd rather not do anymore. I understand that a wild animal is what it is, and in my naivety, before I met him, I imagined a number of tigers in a healthier environment. Even the desire to stroke some that were sufficiently "tamed" and have the satisfaction and love to touch a tiger in full possession of his faculties, so to speak, and with sufficient caution. But what I saw there were a number of tigers asleep, even young tigers, giving evidence were sufficiently sedated, if not drugged, so that tourists like me we did the route touch the animals that were there. That is: the guides then take the next in line of people waiting to take him gently by the hand and show you where to put it on every tiger, while the guide that you have your camera takes the picture. He felt sleepy animals while his breathing was strong and fast. I do not know what to think, although I imagine. How long are well along the day for people to cherish? . Think.

There is nothing "karmic" or "spiritual, thrill seekers or sensations would say that there is no merit. Nor am I so foolish to petting an animal without knowing that this can be unpredictable. But I prefer the authenticity of knowing that these animals, if any respect, are also, that the cause is truly just. Although I take a picture with them.

No more turns, the rest are justifications


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 4 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you Javier.

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