As a result of tiger mistreatment and wildlife trafficking allegations, authorities have taken over Tiger Temple. But what they found while relocating the giant cats is beyond disturbing…
Credit: Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
Allegations of tiger mistreatment and wildlife trafficking at the infamous Tiger Temple in Thailand resulted in authorities taking over the tourist trap earlier this week. What officials found, however, no one could have been prepared for.
BBC News relays that while authorities worked to remove and relocate all 137 tigers from Wat Pa Luangta Maha Bua Yannasampanno, 40 dead tiger cubs (estimated to be 1 or 2 days old when they died) were found in a freezer at the temple.
Devastating pictures of the morbid discovery have begun to spread on social media.
Warning: The following photos are graphic.
Adisorn Nuchdamrong, from Thailand’s Department of National Parks, told Reuters:
The dead cubs “must be of some value for the temple, but for what is beyond me.”
According to The New York Times, the antlers of a deer, cow horn and the body of a deceased bearcat were also discovered along with the bodies of the tiger cubs.
Reportedly, tiger bones and body parts are commonly used in Chinese medicine – similar to rhino horn. It is possible the monks were intending to sell the tigers’ organs and bones on the black market, though this has not been confirmed.
In the past, the monks have denied previous trafficking allegations. However, they were not available to comment on this travesty.
To counteract the trafficking claims, the temple released a statement on its Facebook page saying that the mortality rate for tiger cubs at the temple was “comparatively low” and that it used to cremate dead cubs. A vet changed that policy in 2010, however, “probably to keep as proof against the allegations of selling cubs.”
Chris Coots, who volunteered with the tigers, backed up that claim. He told the press:
“A number of the bodies are in a state of decay as they have been there over five years. It would seem strange to keep the bodies that long if the intent was to sell them. This will be easily clarified by decomposition tests.”
The investigation will continue throughout the week, and the temple will remain closed to the public.
While activists express their outrage on the matter, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is acting on the news by urging the Thai government to prohibit the temple from keeping tigers in the future.
Allegations of monks abusing the tigers have been arising since 2001, though the Buddhists deny any wrongdoing.
It does seem, however, that negative consequences are inevitable when wild animals like tigers are kept for human entertainment. The temple has been a popular stop for tourists for decades, as they can pay to get photographed posing with the tigers.
2016 by Amanda Froelich