Animal Abuse in the Tiger Temple

We have written recently about our “Photo with a tiger” experience in Saiyok District, Kanchanaburi Province in Thailand. We recommended everyone who travels in Bangkok to go there as you don’t take a photo with a tiger on a regular basis.

After this post has been published, we received a message from Chris Pitt- the Campaigns & Communications Manager of the Care for the Wild International Organisation saying that his organisation funded an investigation into the Tiger Temple between 2005-2008, as there were some concerns raised about the tigers’ living conditions (if you want to have a brief glimpse at what is says, click HERE).

tiger

The findings were alarming as it turned out that the Tiger Temple operates as a breeding facility and may be involved in the illegal tiger trade between Thailand and Laoshas no breeding license, tigers were confined for 20 hours a day in small cages and put on public display so that tourists can touch and pose with them for a photo. Moreover, the tigers were given no shade, and were exposed to three hours of direct sunlight in temperatures which often rose above 40°C.

The organisation points out the tigers were treated badly and drugged to make them compliant and perform for visitors. Also, staff members were very aggressive towards the animals. What is more, the staff members were not trained properly to react to any emergency situation in case someone was attacked by one of the tigers.

Because of the bad treatment of the animals they might be suffering from some physical problems which might result in being aggressive towards people or even attacking them. Therefore, the life of visitors of the Tiger Temple is at risk, especially small kids who often make close physical contact with them when posing for photos.

What is even worse, after the findings were officially published, the Temple’s Abbot has shown no interest in the matter and ignored the alarming situation.

tiger

After we read the article, we felt very bad for participating unknowingly in promoting the animal abuse. We didn’t know about the real situation in the Tiger Temple and we openly say NO to this kind of animal treatment. Therefore, we would like to inform you guys about it before you go, so you can make your own mind up and decide whether you still want to go there or not. If you have been there and have a blog please help spread the word out about the report and its findings.

If you want to help the Care for the Wild International Organisation to prevent the tigers abuse you can visit their campaign website and make sure you avoid attractions like the tiger temple.

You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you sharing,

Agness and Cez

This post was originally published in
About Agness

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"


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39 Comments

  • Good on you guys for taking the time to write this post and admit you didn’t realise. I think that that is something which happens a lot, nearly everyone I’ve ever met who has been to Thailand has been there and when they return they all said the same thing “it’s like the tigers are drugged”, “They seem badly treated”. For this reason I’ve never been, I’d rather go on 10 safaris and never see one than be apart of the abuse. I’ll share this right away, who knows, if we stop one person going each time we share it it may make a difference. It certainly won’t make any difference if we all sit back and do nothing about it.

    • That’s right, we had to own up to our mistake. Let’s hope something will eventually change. It would still be quite an experience to visit the Tiger Temple and learn about tigers and how to protect them, even if there was no opportunity to take a photo with one.

  • It’s very cool of you guys to spread the word about this after you’d already written about it. I think these sort of “petting zoos” are really heinous and I always feel worried when I see posts about them (I didn’t see yours until just now) because wild animals don’t belong in captivity. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Marina. You are right the wild animals don’t belong in captivity and we should have knowns and thought about it before going there. Shame of us, we were too excited about touching tigers, playing with them and take some photos.

      • I hope you didn’t take my comment as a criticism of you-I understand your inclination to want to see these glorious creatures up close!

      • Marina, of course we didn’t take your comment as a criticism. We really understand it and feel ashamed for going there.

  • Doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s just as bad in Japan. I’m not an activist, but I never visit zoos in Asia or any other facilities where animals are kept in cages. The situation is even worse up in Chiang Mai, I have read, where they were openly breeding rare and endangered animals to serve in the restaurant, usually to people of Chinese descent who believe in all that crap about the powers you get from eating some animals. Barbaric.

    As for the tigers, they have them also at the Nong Nuch gardens down in Pattaya. Didn’t get photos, but I admit I wanted to just so as to touch one of those amazing creatures.

    Oh, and elephants, I admit that I had no problems at all with doing the elephant treks up in the north. They seem pretty well looked after up there. But I used to hate it when I saw them getting dragged around the city for tourists — something you rarely see in Thailand now due to better enforcement. So there is hope that Asia is catching on and making steps toward doing the right thing by animals.

    • It’s horrible! I didn’t know about Chiang Mai and Pattaya. Thanks for telling me. The elephants were treated very well in Sri Lanka unlike Thailand where locals seemed to be very aggressive to them.

  • I’m glad you guys are spreading the word. We live pretty close to the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, and we were lucky enough to be warned about it by some other travelers not long after we arrived. Since then I’ve talked to some people who said they’ve spoken to volunteers at the temple who dispute some of these claims; but, to me, if there’s even a question about whether these tigers are being treated well then it’s a definite no-go.

    • Hi Jess! Unfortunately, we were not warned by anybody and went there :-( However, we are hoping some more people can read about it on our blog and decide to avoid this kind of attractions.

  • Good on you guys, as I commented on your other post, I too was in the same situation as you, not knowning and feeling absolutely gutted to have been involved when I found out afterwards. I hadn’t fully processed it all in order to put it into words yet, but I am so glad you have. Well done.

  • It breaks my heart to see chains around those tigers’ necks. We tourists can vote with our dollars by not supporting so-called animal attractions and for me that includes ‘swim with dolphins’ or dubious ‘pay to volunteer with animals’ scams. Another thing I’d never do is attend a bullfight or ‘run’ with confused and tormented bulls. They’re not on this earth for the entertainment of bored humans. Writing off some forms of animal abuse as historical/cultural doesn’t make it any more acceptable to me. Even if, as writers/bloggers we receive free entry to an event or activity, we can’t deny we’re still supporting perpetuation of these activities by providing publicity. Excellent post, Agness; thanks for shining light on this issue and pointing out a common pitfall for travel bloggers.

    • Thank you Lesley. You are right, the wild animals are not on this planet to entertain people and we should do everything we can to stop travellers from going to places like this. Spread the word and thank you for stopping by. We really appreciate your comment on this issue.

  • This saddens me so much whenever I hear about animals being treated badly in any way. I myself am Thai (born&raised in Sydney) and it is so disheartening to know that these people will disregard the well-being of animals just to make money, and it’s sad how tourists are sucked into this.

    As much as I would hate to contribute money to anything that is remotely related to unjust treatment of animals, I really want to see for myself these claims, because as far as I remember, temples should not be profiting from anything besides donations.Unless things have changed tremendously over there. It would be great if a new investigation could take place in the present day as the previous investigation was conducted in 2008, so it would be great if there was an update on this issue, and it would be even more great if places like the Tiger Temple have improved over the years

    • Hi Emily. Thanks a lot for your comment. You are absolutely right. This saddens us so much as well and we are still feeling guilty for going there. Yeah, they should do another investigation and keep us updated.

    • Yeah, it would be great to have something more recent. Things tend to always change, only not always for the better. Either way, we will steer away from there now that we know. The Tiger Temple, I mean. We’re going to Thailand again in few days :) How often do you visit Thailand Emily? Happy travels!

  • I always worry about this sort of thing when I travel. It is hard to be 100% thorough in researching a place and its treatment of animals, and while you didn’t know at the time, I’m glad you’ve learned since, and have shared the information here…

  • Good for you guys, as animals can’t speak for themselves it’s our job to stand up for them. I also felt really bad for the elephants in Thailand that are used for tourist rides, I wish more people would refuse to ride them. It’s so much better seeing them in their natural environment.

    • Thanks Becky. You are right, we should stand up for animals as they can’t defend themselves. I was in Thailand a week ago and I witnessed how bad elephants were being treated. I was so sorry for them ;-(

  • Just remember Agness that the organisation that contacted you – ALSO COLLECTS DONATIONS – they depend on donations and maybe if you think about it – when you you see their ad campaigns they say = “DONATE MONEY SO WE CAN STOP THE TIGER TEMPLE”…doesn’t this smell to you? It certainly makes me suspicious. Why do they need money? and why do they include that statement in every article?

    The organisation is perhaps jealous that the Tiger Temple is successful and making money – money that they want!

    Also isn’t it about time UK organisations keep their noses in their own country? hmmm – 54 countries in the commonwealth – ALL conquered through genocide – I dont see any of you Brits giving the lands back?? huh???

    As usual you have to go finding issues in other countries – in fact agnes this post is all about travelling to other countries… so why dont you make the UK perfect first – give back all the lands your ancestors raped and pillaged, enslaved and tortured for. Give the lands back to the tribes around the world. Then maybe – just maybe you could criticise a tiger park in a country that has done nothing to you.

    In fact you a traveler – and you report on dirty underwear of other countries and you make either money or publicity – you yourself are an opportunist,- yet you preach high moral ground.

    Do the right thing Agnes and be truthful – realise that your country has acted horrifically in its entire history to the people of the world and its own people (king Henry and his wonderful wife beheading) to all the torture and enslavement of millions of humans in the last 600 years at least. Your country and its people have a lot of gall to call out other cultures.

    The Truth is the Truth – this is not hate or anger – but its about time that you Brits back off – how about giving back Australia to the Aboriginals for a start? New Zealand back to the Maori not to mention the Pacific Islands and the list goes on and on. YOu people wiped out entire civilisations of people…yet you dare to criticise a wildlife park.

    I wonder when you people will wake up and start making up for the bloodshed of your ancestors and get out of countries that you should never have taken over, by illegal corrupt and most violent and heinous of crimes.

    peace. Leave the Tiger Temple alone.

    • Hi Gio,

      Thank you for your comment and constructive criticism. As much as I agree with few of your points, there are few I don’t.

      Firstly, I would like to point out that neither me nor Agness are British. We are Polish, we just write in English (at least we try). From my point of view, even if we were, we wouldn’t have much to say about colonialism or politics in general. For this reason I will not try to comment on politics or history. I hope you understand, we are not in position to debate about it.

      Where it comes to Tiger Temple, you’re right to say that by no means we should criticise a country for their customs, and I don’t believe we did. I hope you see the distinction between a culture and tourism business, which abuses nearly extinct animals and endangers people coming to see them. Of course it’s their choice, as it was mine, but an accident can happen at any time. This is the reason for writing this article, not to benefit the organisation which contacted us to tell us about it. I see your point in saying that they just want to benefit from publicity and donations, but I can’t find the proof they are misusing their funds.

      Once again, thank you for your comment. I see that you really like Tiger Temple and I’d be very grateful if you could share more of your experiences with us. Where are you from? Is there any chance you could tell us what is the best about your country, so that we don’t miss it when we get there?

      Thanks,
      Cez

  • Hello Guys! I Am A First Time Visitor To Bangkok, Whereas 2 Friends Accompanying Me Are 3rd Timers, I Am Travelling Between 30/12/2012 – 06/01/2012, Staying In Bangkok & Pataya, As Per What They Have Said & Experienced, They Were Happy Visiting The Tiger Temple, Off Course They Had Loads Of Rules To Follow, Whcih They Did Promptly, They Got Opportunity To Touch Tiger, Get A Special Snap, Which Does Look Tempting On Their Face Book Accounts, And All Safety & Security Was Available, I Agree They Are Not To Be Kept In Captivity, However, I Am Too Eager To Visit & Further Post You With My First Time Experience, I Would Also Try Knowing The Facts & Well Being Of Tigers Who Are There At The Temple, Unsure Whether I Would Get The Correct Information, However My Eyes Would Be The Best Judge To This Situation. Also, Whether These Tigers Are Hurt Because Of The Strong Chains Around Their Collar, Would Be A Bit Difficult, Because There Instruction Manual Suggests People Not To Click Photographs From Front Or From The Tigers Side, It Has To Be While Walking At A Distance Or Behind The Tiger. The Fact That The Authority At The Temple Would Ask You To Fill Up A Form About Taking The Risk & Authority Not Be Held Responsible, Proves Their Point That These Are Lovely Looking STrong Cats & They May Get Wild Anytime, Lets Hope I Do Not Annoy Them For I Just Want To Touch Them On Their Back & Have A Snap For Myself To Cherish My Life Time. Yes, The Manual Also Slated Heavy Charges For Different Snaps & This Proves That The Temple Is Making Lot Of Money, I Am Going There With A Hope That This Money Is USed For These Beautiful Wild Cats. We Are From Mumbai, India & I Am An Indian Who Agrees To Cez & Agnees & Value Their Efforts. However, Politics, History & Any Such Offending Views Should Not Be Mixed With This Beautiful Thought Of Saving The Wild-Life. One More Point, I Guess The Governing Authority Is Allowing The Temple To Continue Because May Be They Are Following The Protection To Wild Life Norm. Just Hopeful & Very Excited At The Same Time.

    • Hey Abhishek! Thank you for your great comment. Sorry for replying way after you have been to the temple. We also hope that the tigers actually benefit from the existence of the Tiger Temple. The report states otherwise and hence we have written this article, but deep down in our souls, it’s all about the animals.

      Have you had a chance to visit them? If so, what was your experience like and what do you think about the whole thing after being there?

      Good luck in your travels and keep us posted!

  • I have mixed feelings about this.. We went to Tiger temple while in Thailand and had a fairly good experience. We didnt expereince any drugged animals.. these tigers are like our cat at home, lazy around in the sun and played with big toys, we didnt see any doppy-ness, the tigers were very active. While there were things that some of the staff did that I didnt agree with they explained that it is like the Mahout (elephant handlers) you need to be rough to get the respect of the animal…while this is not someting I agree with or think is right. In the most ideal world these animals would all be free to roam the jungle but sadly its not an ideal world, there are poachers and people wanting to hurt them.. Sadly I dont think that posts like this will help (no offence, its a great Idea and I have done the same for Animals in Patong – Phuket) because tourists will always want to touch a “wild” animal or feed a baby tiger, people leave the country and dont think anything else… I would hate to imagine what goes on behind the scenes and it suprises me there there haven’t been more attacks.

    • Hi Sam! We also had a good experience there. We actually thought it was the best part of our Bangkok trip – touching the wild tigers and posing with them. When we got back home we’ve heard about how these tigers are being treated on a regular basis and we were shocked. Just wanted to share it with others so they know what to expect when they get there. If we had known about it before we went there, we would not have gone there at all. I think the tigers you saw and played with were also drugged. They are wild animals and they must be drugged to keep them calm. I know the tourists will always want to touch a wild animal or feed a baby tiger and maybe this post will not change it, but we just wanted to make people realize how bad animals are treated there for touristic reasons.

      • Hey Agness,
        Sorry hope I didn’t offend..
        I don’t think the tigers we handled were drugs as they were very alert and active, it might be more due to being raised around people? The tigers on the Gold Coast in Australia (to me) seemed a lot more mellow than these ones.

        It’s sad there is nothing we can really do. If only I had the money to buy an island and all the tigers and put them in a jungle rather than a concrete jungle.

        What can you do right?

      • Of course you didn’t offend. Yes, sometimes you can’t do much about it. We tried to share our experience here to make a little change, hope it will work well.

  • Sadly it appears that the poor animals are drugged to make them docile so tourists can play with them as if they were domesticated cats.

    I shed a few tears when I visited the zoo in Phukett. The conditions the animals were kept in was horrible.

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