BANGKOK – Thailand’s highly-criticized Tiger Temple has blamed the government for the deaths of 86 tigers in it’s care. Denying government accounts that the Siberian Tigers died from inbreeding and disease.
The Buddhist temple west of Bangkok was once a tourist hotspot where visitors took photos with tigers and bottle-fed cubs. In 2016 under pressure form international wildlife activists, authorities seized 147 tigers.
Since then, 86 of the Siberian Tigers living have died. State wildlife authorities are saying the deaths are due to immune deficiencies from inbreeding. Which allegedly made the animals vulnerable to deadly diseases.
The temple’s caretaker denied this on Monday. “They did not die because of inbreeding,” Athithat Srimanee told Reuters.
“When they raided the temple, they did not say anything about infection, so this is just a blame game,” he said. Accusing wildlife authorities of locking up the tigers in cramped cages.
“At Tiger temple, we used kindness so the tigers lived in wide spaces and not in cramped cages.”
Despite allegations that the temple had links with wildlife trafficking, Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua temple remains a tourist attraction. It’s a private wildlife sanctuary that allows people to feed animals for free.
Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua “Tiger Temple” has officially denied any connection with wildlife trafficking.
Currently, there are 400 deer, more than 300 peacocks, a lion and several other animals under its care legally.
Thai authorities claimed Monday that the tigers from the temple were well cared for of at government sanctuaries. Stating that they caught diseases like; canine distemper virus or laryngeal paralysis because inbreeding had destroyed their immune system.
A veterinarian for the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said that the tigers health was not good to begin with. He also blamed inbreeding saying “there were only six tigers originally and later that became 147, so there were always health risks.
“Their genetics made their body weak and susceptible to the risk of infection,” he told a news conference.