KANCHANABURI – Wildlife Conservation have discovered 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer at the infamousÂ Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua aka Tiger Temple, which is being investigated for wildlife trafficking.
Deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks said oOfficials in Kanchanaburi Province found the 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer in a kitchen area, said Adisorn Nuchdamrong,
“Foreign volunteers at the temple today told us about it and showed us the freezer. Perhaps they felt what the temple is doing isn’t right,” Adisorn said.
“They must be of some value for the temple to keep them,” he said. “But for what is beyond me.”
Also on display was the body of a Binturong, a protected species commonly known as a bearcat, which the authorities found with the cub carcasses.
The temple said in a comment on its Facebook page that wildlife authorities had already been aware that the carcasses were in the freezer. The carcasses of cubs that had died had been kept, rather than cremated, since 2010 on the instructions of a former vet, it said.
Adisorn told Reuters the department had not previously known about the cubs.
“The temple has notified us when grown tigers die, but never the cubs,” he said.
Facing what it says was mounting international pressure, the government raided the facility on Monday, though an official said that workers at the temple had made their job harder by opening all the felinesâ€™ cages.
Officials have moved 61 live tigers from the temple since Monday, Adisorn said, leaving 76 still there.
Thailand has long been a hub for the illicit trafficking of wildlife and forest products, including ivory. Exotic birds, mammals and reptiles, some of them endangered species, can often be found on sale in markets.
“It’s clear that the welfare of the tigers is not a priority and their lives are full of abuse and commercial exploitation for the entertainment of tourists,” said Jan Schmidt, Asia-Pacific Wildlife Adviser at World Animal Protection, in a statement.
Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, popularly known as Tiger Temple, allows visitors to walk near the beautiful beasts and take pictures as part of tours, which start at $100.
A representative for the temple said that once the tigers are removed, it plans to start a zoo.
By Patpicha Tanakasempipat – Reuters