An investigation conducted by World Animal Protection has found that Thailand’s controversial Tiger Temple Co. Ltd. is planning to re-open under the new name Golden Tiger (Thailand) Co. Ltd.

At Ecophiles, we had previously written about the cruelty behind tiger selfies. As captive tigers are victims of irresponsible tourism in Asia, as their suffering is fueled by a callous demand for tourist selfies and photo sharing on social media. To make a wild creature, such as the tiger, behave in an unnatural manner to be the entertainment and props for tourists entails a lifetime of punishment and cruelty in the name of training and submission.

Tiger Temple Thailand

Tourists visiting and posing for photos with captive tigers at the old Tiger Temple in Thailand.

Why was Tiger Temple so controversial?

Tiger Temple Co. Ltd was probably one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Southeast Asia, mainly due to their large collection of tigers – an estimated total of 147 tigers in 2016.

However, after years of allegations of illegal breeding and trafficking of the tigers (and their parts), Thailand’s government raided the facility, uncovering dead cubs in freezers alongside tiger skins, amulets and tiger teeth trinkets. The Tiger Temple was forced to shut down and hand over their tigers to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Following the investigation, World Animal Protection is concerned about these developments, given the appalling circumstances that led to the closing of the temple. They are calling for Thailand’s government to not issue a zoo license to Golden Tiger (Thailand) Co. Ltd. to open another venue.

Tiger Temple World Animal Protection

Tourists visiting captive tigers at the old Tiger Temple, Thailand.

Tiger Temple back in business?

The Golden Tiger (Thailand) Co. Ltd. is currently working on constructing a new venue in Kanchanaburi (in the West of Thailand). They have already been issued a provisional license by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, however, they can only acquire their full zoo license after they have met 11 specified conditions within the next six months including enclosures deemed large enough for the tigers and veterinary care.

Legal cases and police investigations into the illegal allegations against Tiger Temple Co. Ltd. are still ongoing, therefore, granting them a zoo license would allow the company to continue running a tiger business under cruel conditions.

Golden Tiger World Animal Protection

The Golden Tiger Co Ltd site currently in construction.

The Golden Tiger

The Golden Tiger Co Ltd site currently in construction.

Petition to ban breeding of tigers & investigate captive tiger facilities

In 2016, World Animal Protection handed over a petition to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation calling for an investigation into all captive tiger facilities in Thailand, and to ban the breeding of tigers at venues which serve no conservation benefit for tigers.

Senior wildlife advisor at World Animal Protection, Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, says, “Tiger farms have nothing to do with conservation – they just bring extreme suffering to these wild animals living in appalling conditions. These venues need to be stopped in their tracks because they clearly have links to the dark side of wildlife trafficking rings.”

How You Can Help

Find out more at World Animal Protection’s site & sign World Animal Protection’s petition aimed at Thai authorities here.

Tiger Temple

A large model tiger at the old Tiger Temple site, Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand

Horrifying details

After conducting a study on the tigers at tourist venues in Thailand, World Animal Protection found:

  • A 33% increase in the number of tigers at tourism facilities over a 5-year period.
  • Tiger cubs were separated from their mothers only 2-3 weeks after they were born.
  • Cubs were used as photo props with tourists, and were mishandled all day, which can lead to stress and injury.
  • Tigers were punished (i.e. starvation) in order to stop aggressive unwanted behavior.
  • Tigers were housed in small cages, given limited access to fresh water
  • 50% of the tigers were in cages with less that 20sqm per animal
  • One in ten (12%) of the tigers we observed showed behavioral problems, (i.e. repetitive pacing and biting their tales), which most commonly occur when animals feel they cannot cope with stressful environments or situations. 

Also Read:

Tiger Selfies are the Worst and Here’s Why You Must Stop

Extinct Caspian Tigers: Could they Roam The Earth Again?