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Thew Tiger Temple - Is It A Travesty?


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THe problem is that most visitors don't understand what abuse entails - hitting is only part of it...the abuse lies in the conditions and the philosophies of the place.

as for closing it down - would we have refused to close Auschwitz because there was nowhere for the occupants to go?

Edited by wilko
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The problem is that most visitors don't understand what abuse entails - hitting is only part of it...the abuse lies in the conditions and the philosophies of the place.

As for closing it down - would we have refused to close Auschwitz because there was nowhere for the occupants to go?

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all this talk of the small enclosures being cruel reminds me of a "big cat" rescue shelter in the sierra nevada mountains in california.

i went there and while touring the place, a guide mentioned that you don't need large enclosures for big cats. in the wild, they only roam about because they need to for hunting, but if they're being fed, they're quite happy to sit around in the same place and do nothing all day. they're indeed "lazy" animals.

have no clue whether the accusations of abuse are true, but if small enclosures for big cats are abusive, the tiger temple isn't the only place doing it... even the liberal, animal-loving californians do it.

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I did not make it clear but I'm quoting someone who visited the place and wrote this - but I have hasd serious doubts about this and other animal "attractions in Thailand for several years now.

most of the criticism is from experienced or semi-experienced animal handlers and conservationists and most of the support seems to be from those completely unaware of animal needs and conservation aims and techniques.

Maybe someone with a good grounding in Animal husbandry and conservation could put the case for the Tiger Zoo....

Unfortunately anyone with the slightest knowledge of film/photography as "evidence" will know that it is virtually worthless on it's own.

what is needed is a thorough investigation by properly qualified people.....

Edited by wilko
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Somthing strange about Monks running a tourist trap.

The story reminds me of the Night Safari guy opening a wildlife restaurant.

Somthings not right.

Lets hope that some chinese business men dont get involved in this

they have no scruples whatsoever when it comes to business

imagine the growing and exporting of Tiger parts to their homeland

as they cant get it up because they drink / bet /party/work too hard

that would truly sicken me

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Lets hope that some chinese business men dont get involved in this

they have no scruples whatsoever when it comes to business

imagine the growing and exporting of Tiger parts to their homeland

as they cant get it up because they drink / bet /party/work too hard

that would truly sicken me

As I said, I am not trying to totally defend the place, but based on my personal observations there was nothing that outlandish or what is generally considered cruelty any more than anywhere that has captive wild animals. Tourism is a fact of life here and we could go on and on about the ethics of captive animals, including places like the Night Safari and the zoos. What about the poor fish and dolphins in places like Sea World that are no longer free?

This entire post was initially started on hearsay and nothing that the OP has seen himself. Lets stay in reality and especially not take off on some tangent such as "selling tiger parts" which is baseless in regards to this post.

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Lets hope that some chinese business men dont get involved in this

they have no scruples whatsoever when it comes to business

imagine the growing and exporting of Tiger parts to their homeland

as they cant get it up because they drink / bet /party/work too hard

that would truly sicken me

As I said, I am not trying to totally defend the place, but based on my personal observations there was nothing that outlandish or what is generally considered cruelty any more than anywhere that has captive wild animals. Tourism is a fact of life here and we could go on and on about the ethics of captive animals, including places like the Night Safari and the zoos. What about the poor fish and dolphins in places like Sea World that are no longer free?

This entire post was initially started on hearsay and nothing that the OP has seen himself. Lets stay in reality and especially not take off on some tangent such as "selling tiger parts" which is baseless in regards to this post.

you miss my point silverhawk

I posted I hope they NEVER get involved

NOT that they were or are involved

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Lets hope that some chinese business men dont get involved in this

they have no scruples whatsoever when it comes to business

imagine the growing and exporting of Tiger parts to their homeland

as they cant get it up because they drink / bet /party/work too hard

that would truly sicken me

As I said, I am not trying to totally defend the place, but based on my personal observations there was nothing that outlandish or what is generally considered cruelty any more than anywhere that has captive wild animals. Tourism is a fact of life here and we could go on and on about the ethics of captive animals, including places like the Night Safari and the zoos. What about the poor fish and dolphins in places like Sea World that are no longer free?

This entire post was initially started on hearsay and nothing that the OP has seen himself. Lets stay in reality and especially not take off on some tangent such as "selling tiger parts" which is baseless in regards to this post.

It's not baseless - there has been several queries as to why the young tiger cubs are taken from their mothers and reaered elsewhere - note the "engorged" tigress. How many casual visitors would even recognised an "engorged" female tiger?

The problem with lay-witnesses is they simply don't know what they are looking at.

THe above statement -whilst only "hearsay" is allegedly by an experienced person and no-one seems to be able to convincingly sat otherwise.

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Much of the original quoted article gives me the impression that the original author has a bone to pick or a lack of understanding of keeping non-domesticated animals or the behavior of large predators. I will consider it FUD unless there are others who can corroborate, and given the number of western volunteers at the Temple I'm extremely surprised there have been no affirmations or denials from first hand sources.

- I'm particularly curious as to how there where apparently two baby *lion* cubs there. They don't run around wild in Thailand and cubs would be two valuable to a zoo, circus or private collector to just donate to a temple.

- Tigers lie around and sleep. That is what they, and most big predators, do most of the time. You even see this behavior in your domesticated cat. You don't need to drug them.

- What good would letting a hawk *with a broken wing* out of its cage? Do you want it to get hurt further? Maybe it would have been kinder to kill it, like sometimes done with horses with broken legs, but that wouldn't be very buddhist. Stick it in a huge aviary and it is still stuck on its perch.

- How would you rather discipline a Tiger? If an animal needs to interact with humans, it needs to be controlled. Tiger urine and tiger balm seem like perfectly acceptable sticks to use when you don't want to use a real stick. And if you are a fan of western conservation methods, letting them run free without human interaction is exactly what the fund raising is about. Last time I was down there, the new enclosures where scheduled to open this year so the fund raising seems to have been working.

- The tigers are shaded with umbrellas. And the hard to see pool of water at the back is not there for the tourists.

- When asked about the scratches on their arms, western volunteers have told me that it is just a result of the animals being playful. They certainly do get to deal with the tigers when they can be trusted to do so. Given the size of a baby tiger is larger than the larger feral cats in Australia which have been known to take down sheep, it is hardly surprising that they are treated as dangerous and kept away from the newbies.

- The first item raised might be a point of concern, but no mention is made of *why* cubs where taken from the mother. Indeed, the amount of breeding going on at the temple is an indicator that things are being done right.

So far I have been three times over about 4 years. First time I saw the larger tigers kept in those small cages described. Second time only the babies where there, along with a baby Asiatic bear being hand reared on soy milk by the western volunteers, with the adult tigers having been moved to new larger accommodation. Third time those cages where gone with signs up announcing the imminent opening of the newer facilities with plenty of Thai workers doing whatever it is they spend all day doing. From what I have scene, the monks and the business people they have enlisted to help raise money are doing the best they can for these animals (both in the huge cost of keeping and feeding them and improving and extending the facilities) and articles like the original just hurt the fund raising efforts slowing down efforts to make things better and hurting the existing animals at the sanctuary and the new orphans that keep coming in. If there are indeed problems like painted in the article, I hope that someone in the know can corroborate this with a statement that sounds less dubious.

And, unlike Auschwitz, there *is* nowhere for the tigers to go. And yes, you wouldn't close Auschwitz if the alternative was to turf the residents out to starve or freeze to death. Even the residents would agree with that. What a wonderfully pointless comment. If it was decided to close the temple, some of the tigers might be lucky enough to find a home in a zoo or a circus but the majority of them would end up with a bullet in their brain or in a black market Chinese medicine farm. And, at least the side of the temple I have seen, the tigers there are better off there than any circus I've seen and all but the top tier zoos.

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First off I have not been to the temple, but have volunteered at two wildlife rescue centers in Thailand and two in the U.S. all four are strongly against exploiting wildlife. What I am posting below was sent to me from WWFT and is what they send to people inquiring about volunteering there, especially when the Tiger Temple is mentioned.

My understanding is that there are strong efforts being made to take the animals away from the abbot and find more humane homes for them.

Something about the infamous tiger temple:

After hearing many complaints about the place from tourists and volunteers (we have even had volunteers come here after they left the tiger temple sick after a few days of volunteering), we visited the tiger temple with representative of international animal welfare / wildlife conservation organisations earlier this year. Short summary:

There are animals locked up in tiny, un-enriched enclosures.

Tigers are showing signs of malnourishment, e.g. sight defects. They have been fed on dogfood and chicken - an incomplete diet for felines.

Tigers are reported to be beaten and abused into submission (negative-reinforcement techniques), in order that they can be handled and paraded in front of the abbott and the tourists.

The monks / handlers do not have any training or equipment for tranquilising animals and therefore have no form of emergency control if a tiger goes bezerk. They rely heavily on negative reinforcement to keep the tigers docile, but there is always the risk of an animal getting out of control.

Tigers are chained up outside for several hours without shade or drinking water so that tourists can take photos of themselves with the tigers.

The initial 4 tigers have rumoured to have actually been bought by the abbott from an illegal wildlife trader, mixed species have been interbred and there are now at least 17 tigers from a limited gene-pool. The conservation value of this is more than questionable.

The tigers have been officially confiscated by the government, as the abbott has no legal documentation or permit to keep them. However, as the government have no-where else to take care of the animals, they remain under the "care" of the Tiger Temple.

The abbott himself is not open to constructive criticism of his operation or support from organisations wishing to improve the welfare of the animals and safety of the staff/volunteers/tourists.

Approximately 300 tourists pass through each day, each paying a mere $10 entrance fee plus extra fees for "special" photos with the tigers - i.e. approx. $20000 per week is cashed in, excluding further donations, and there is little sign that this is being spent on the welfare of the animals.

Apologies if this sounds harsh, but we like to be hard and to the point. If your aim is to volunteer for an organisation that has a high regard for the welfare of the animals, then we do not recommend the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi. If your aim is however to touch/pet wild animals, take your photo with them and generally exploit them for your own personal enjoyment and experience, then please do not consider applying to us as this behaviour is against our principles. For your information, we also have a campaign against wildlife exploitation in tourism, some information is on our website here: http://www.wfft.org/campaigns.htm

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