My Pet Tiger Lives in Thailand

It was like any other day in Thailand. After a long drive, we arrived at the temple to serve breakfast to the monks. While they were eating, we then bottle-fed the two-month-old tigers, before having playtime with the baby tigers. If this seems surreal, it was. After spending the days prior sunning in Phuket and at a business conference in Bangkok, we took about a four hour drive to the Tiger Temple and started an unbelievable day.

The volunteers at the temple started us off with the younger cubs, and by the afternoon–after walking, bathing, playing with, and strutting various ages of these amazing creatures–we were no longer phased by a few hundred pounds of potentially deadly felines. They were now our friends. Perhaps we should have been a little terrified, as we watched these older tigers launching across the water at each other as they “played,” but we were naively happy to spend an entire day with them.

My absolute favorite part was playing with the six-week-old baby tigers. Although they had huge paws, and one can imagine how big they will grow to be, these cubs looked exactly like large kittens. And they meowrrr-ed and sang just like their house cat relatives. One of the highlights of the entire trip to Thailand (which I certainly have a lot of blogging fodder to keep me busy for a while) was a day trip to the Tiger Temple.

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4 thoughts on “My Pet Tiger Lives in Thailand

  1. I love tigers, too. There are less that 4,000 left in the wild, and if current trends continue, they could be extinct within the decade. Unfortunately, the Tiger Temple is unsafe, cruel, and fraudulent, and should not be patronized by anyone who truly cares for these great creatures. A new report from Care for the Wild International confirms what many people have suspected: Tiger Temple is misleading tourists into believing that it is a tiger sanctuary when it is actually nothing more than a money-making petting zoo where the animals must suffer mistreatment on a daily basis. The tigers are kept in bare enclosures well below international standards for the majority of the day. Tigers are manhandled, hit, sat on and generally forced to perform for the public, possibly with the use of sedative drugs. A tiger that has not been drugged or otherwise abused would never come anywhere near a human.
    The Temple is neither a sanctuary nor a recognised conservation NGO, but all charges are billed as ‘donations’. No tiger has ever been released. It claims to have 17 tigers, seven of which were orphans – but the reality is that, according to staff they have more than 100, most of which were bred on site for the sole purpose of making a profit. Others were likely poached from the wild, and there are suspicions that the Temple is involved in the illegal wildlife trade, which is decimating the population of wild tigers. The Tiger Temple is making over $1 million in profit a year, but there is no evidence of this going into tiger conservation.
    Care for the Wild CEO Philip Mansbridge, who visited the Tiger Temple personally to assess the claims and risks, said: “If you think Tiger Temple is some kind of spiritual tiger sanctuary, it isn’t. If you think they rescue abused tigers, or that the tigers will be released into the wild, they won’t be. If you think that a tiger wants to live in a small bare cage, have a chain around its neck and have tourists sit on its back, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. And if you think that, on the off-chance you might get injured, your insurance will cover you – it won’t. Tiger Temple is nothing but a glorified petting zoo where you are risking injury, or worse, while contributing to the suffering of once magnificent animals. That fact won’t stop some people going there to get their Facebook picture of a lifetime – and that’s their choice. But we don’t think this is the way that real animal lovers want to see tigers.”

  2. Pingback: Crossing Phuket Off of My Bucket List | Professional Travel Girl

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