Thailand’s Tiger Temple Sues Conservationists

Tiger Temple Sues Conservationists

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Tiger Temple Sues Conservationists Over Abuse Allegations…

Thailand’s Tiger Temple has long been involved in controversy, and the complaints are many:

  • Drugging the tigers.
  • Abusing the tigers.
  • Selling off older tigers.
  • Putting visitors in harms way.
  • Breeding tigers unprofessionally.
  • The complaints go on and on…

I’ve been to the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi twice. Both times were instigated by visitors to the Kingdom who were excited about getting their photo taken with real tigers. And I have to admit, I was excited my first time too. On my earlier visit years ago, I was convinced that the tigers were drugged. But on a recent trip, in no way were the tigers under the influence.

There are many sites on the internet going against the Tiger Temple. Some of the charges are quite severe, while others seem to come from people who don’t know anything about tigers (who knows, there might be a lot of that going around, on both sides).

And now we have a court case to follow…


Tiger Temple Sues Conservationists Over Abuse Allegations: Edwin Wiek, founder and director of Wildlife Friends of Thailand, a wildlife rescue center near Hua Hin, has been charged along with two other conservationists over remarks in an April 2009 article published in the “Thai Post,” a daily Thai-language newspaper. In the report, accusations were made concerning illegal possession of and trade in tigers at the temple, and abuse of the animals.

WFFT – Press Release: Three local conservationists are being handed over by police to court on Wednesday the 3rd of February at 10:00AM at the provincial court of Kanchanaburi Province. The three are being accused of defamation by the infamous Tiger Temple after a news article in the Thai Post newspaper in April 2009 where accusation were made about animal torture, illegal wildlife trade and possession taking place at the tiger temple. All three conservationists and animal welfare experts were quoted in this article as having a derogatory opinion of the tiger temple.

Is the abuse real? Or no? Are they selling tigers to China for medicinal purposes? Or not?

I have a long video interview with Dr. Somchai from the Tiger Temple in the wings. I wasn’t sure about posting the videos as they do tend to ramble on. Also, in some places they are difficult to decipher so I felt driven to transcribe what I could. Please stay tuned.

The Tiger Temple on the internet…

The majority of the sites lean heavily towards the negative, but not all:

And on the negative side (but there are many more):

I’ll add more as I find them…

Note: I did not see any abuse of the tigers on my second trip, but neither am I an expert on animal welfare. And as I am not in the know, last year I emailed those in the industry to get their opinions on the situation. None agreed to answer my questions, but Dr. Somchai did answer questions from my friend David: Tiger Temple Interview: Dr Somchai.

Tiger Temple Sues Cub

14 thoughts on “Thailand’s Tiger Temple Sues Conservationists”

  1. The Nation: 2009: Wild times in Kanchanaburi as the Tiger Temple becomes a zoo

    Dubbed the Tiger Temple for the big cats that roam freely in its grounds, a forest monastery in Kanchanaburi has now obtained permission to operate as a zoo.

    In addition to its 45 tigers, the temple is home to thousands of boar, deer, cattle and wild fowl.

    Conservation role

    The abbot of the temple, Phra Khru Winaitorn Phusit Kantitharo, is eager to see his new Dhamma Zoo taking shape.

    “The temple will now have an official role to play in conserving wildlife,” said Apitat Srimaee, manager of the Wat Pa Luangta Maha Bua Yannasampanno (Tiger Temple) Foundation. After the temple agreed to take in a rescued tiger cub several years ago, thousands of animals have been placed in its care.

  2. Quote: For the over 100 tigers in the temple, he said all would be impounded for check if the temple had official documents to raise them.

    But a few years back there was an agreement that the Tiger Temple could raise the tigers … so, who did they finally piss off?

  3. Just my opinion … Susanne’s long video does not prove to me that the tigers are not being abused. But I do agree that the reports I saw against the Tiger Temple do not prove anything either, are anecdotal, and not professionally done.

  4. Just saying…that tiger cub in the picture at the bottom of this page has been de-clawed. This is normal for most zoos and such in Thailand though…so I’m not making any point with that, just pointing it out. Personally I am strongly against the Tiger Temple, the main reason being that I really believed the Tiger Temple was…amazing. But all I had to do was type in ‘Abbot of the tiger temple’ into google images and, the first picture that comes up is a photo of him beating them. Broke my heart really. I saw a tiger get punched in the nose when I was there. I thought that was pretty suspicious.

  5. Martyn, when you wrote that post I had only attended the temple the once. At that time, I was fairly sure that the tigers were drugged (and said as much in your comments). But the morning visit was a different experience, so…

    In the report from Care for the Wild International, they mentioned that drugging tigers was an issue they watched out for, but they came up with a negative.

    I can only assume that there has been countless vets (visiting and training) at the temple. And I do wonder about their opinion…

  6. Catherine as you know I have visited the Tiger Temple and I left the Temple totally undecided as to whether the tigers were drugged or not. They did seem fairly lively on my visit and if pushed I’d say no they weren’t under the influence of narcotics….but.

    Monks against conservationists in Thailand, I’ve got a good idea where the courts might stand on that one. The Tiger Temple has been around for a while now and my guess is its got a lot of visitors still to pass through its gates.

  7. Talen, the answer I got from the temple is that it is hot in the afternoon, and in the heat of the day tigers sleep. That makes sense, but during my first trip the tigers couldn’t keep their heads up even. And in the wild, they wouldn’t last long.

    But… I am not an expert, so who knows what it normal for tigers raised in temples.

    I did talk with a volunteer vet at the temple, but the staff are noticeably wary about answering questions. One of the long time volunteers is the manager of a zoo in Canada. I emailed him to open a dialogue… but no reply.

    ‘The court case should be interesting with the sanctuary on offense’

    Oh yes. Thailand is not the place to run around ruining reputations. You can have personal opinions, but they’d better be marked as such. But if there is a loss of revenue, does it matter if it is personal opinion or not? Do you know for sure?

  8. This is very interesting news Catherine. It’s hard to say what is really going on but with what I’ve seen around Thailand from other places and parks there is always some sort of drugging going on and I wouldn’t doubt that at least during some period of the Tiger sanctuaries existence they too have drugged animals.

    I really hope the accusations of drugging and abuse aren’t true but if they are I hope someone steps up to do something.

    The court case should be interesting with the sanctuary on offense…Hopefully the accused have their ducks in a row because if they don’t it will go badly for them and fast.


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