Animal Rights

The Buddhist monks who are mistreating tigers in Thailand

Thai authorities seized all of the tigers detained in the infamous Tiger Temple and accused monks of animal abuse.

Buddhism should teach the respect for life and the equal treatment of all living beings, given that Buddha himself would have been reborn in non-human animals.


Una turista posa con una tigre
In the temple of Kanchanaburi, tigers are used as a tourist attraction. They’re kept in chains and forced to pose for tourists’ selfies. Phhoto by Ira Block


However, it seems that the monks of the Tiger Temple, a Buddhist temple in the province of Kanchanaburi, west of Bangkok, Thailand, forgot these teachings. As it often happens to religious groups, they bowed to more earthly interests. Indeed, Thai wildlife authorities have seized the tigers kept in the temple and accused Buddhist monks to mistreat animals and sell them illegally.


The temple of Kanchanaburi is home to more than 130 tigers used to lure tourists visiting the famed Tiger Temple, contributing to an annual turnover of 5.7 million dollars. Tourists constantly approach tigers to take pictures and to bottle-feed cubs, clearly altering their ethology.


Turista si fa fotografare con una tigre
Tigers appear too docile, they’re thought to be sedated by monks

Animal rights activists denounced the facts

Numerous animal rights associations denounced the facts from all over the world, urging Thai authorities to take action. Authorities broke into the temple and seized some of the animals detained. Monks are accused of illegal breeding and illegal wildlife trade, as well as of sedating tigers to make them tamer.


Monks’ protests

Monks have rejected all accusations, saying that “tigers and monks live in Buddhist harmony”. Evidences, however, are clear and show tigers held in chains and forced to unnatural behaviours.


Un monaco buddista con un cucciolo di tigre
Monks are accused of illegal rearing and illegal wildlife trade. Photo by Ira Block

Dead tiger cubs found in freezer

Thai authorities found more than 40 dead cubs in a temple’s freezer, along with a bear and horns from different animals.


A new life for tigers

On the 30th of May, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation started its operation to move all of the temple’s tigers to a governmental sanctuary in Ratchaburi Province to set them free back to the wild.

Translated by

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