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It may take an army to rescue a temple full of tigers, but it takes a village to give them a better life.

Every success story begins with an idea. Imagine the perfect outcome for the 146 tigers, soon to be rescued from the Tiger Temple. Then visualize a real sanctuary which operates solely to provide these tigers with a decent and happy life in captivity. All because people have banded together and provided the necessary elements to make it all happen.

Where Will the Tigers Go?

Following the much-applauded announcement from the DNP that all 146 tigers are to be seized by the end of April, questions have been raised about the welfare of these tigers after their rescue.

Raised and bred in captivity, these largely hybrid population of tigers have no possibility of being released in the wild.

As “wards of the Kingdom” they will be taken to two separate shelters in Ratchaburi, Khao Prathap Chang and Khao Son, which are currently being prepared to properly house the tigers.

But before the tigers go to their new shelter, they will need to be moved.

“Moving so many tigers in one go is a massive undertaking,” according to Edwin Wiek of WFFT. “Not only do the authorities have to contend with likely resistance from the monks and helpers at the temple when they arrive to relocate the animals, there is also the logistical complication of moving 146 tigers in one go – a traumatic experience even just for one tiger.”

The Thai government will be responsible for feeding and housing the tigers, but they also realize that there needs to be a longer-term solution in place to house and fund the upkeep of the tigers.

Director General of the Department of National Parks (DNP), Nipon Chotibarn, has suggested that one way would be to find funding through foster parent “adoptions.” The DNP would also be open to zoos or animal facilities that meet international standards to take over the care of these wild cats.

However, sending these animals to separate facilities will make it difficult to monitor the welfare of the tigers and may put them at risk for further abuse at the hands of profit-driven businesses.

If one considers that a tiger, dead or alive, can fetch up to 30,000 USD on the black market, the potential for exploitation is vast should the tigers fall into the wrong hands.

Caring for Tigers

Keeping a tiger in a humane captive environment requires not only money but also expertise and true commitment to ensure that these tigers receive the life they deserve.

“A true sanctuary would have a 1,500 square meters outdoor enclosure for every 3-4 tigers for them to have room to really run around in,” according to Wiek. “International standards also require an additional indoor enclosure of about 6 x 4 meters so that tigers can retreat in solitude at night and in the event of aggressive behaviour within the herd.”

Wiek estimated that with diet of red meat and proper health care, maintaining a tiger would cost around $25 a day. The cost of building a large enclosure that would last a tiger’s lifetime would cost around $5,000.The sanctuary would also need to be protected by a four-meter high electrified fence to keep the tigers from escaping, or poachers from entering.

“Given the large area of national land and parks in Thailand, it would not be inconceivable for the government to allocate the required land to develop a proper tiger sanctuary which could eventually be, at least partly, self-sustaining,” said Wiek.

Unfortunately, many people have been led to believe that the Tiger Temple, by breeding their tigers in captivity have somehow contributed to the preservation of the species. What they don’t seem to be aware of is that it is the population of the tigers In the wild that needs to be increased. As creatures at the top of the food chain, their preservation is vital to maintain the very ecosystem that we all depend on.

By breeding tigers for pure commercial use, we have essentially messed with the laws of nature. These tigers will never survive out in the wild.

“I would be happy to work with the DNP to help build a real sanctuary for these tigers,” said Wiek, “with the help of NGOs and the Thai government, there is no reason a facility like this can’t be set up. It will help spread education amongst Thais as well as the international community about true conservation as well as show people that tigers in captivity can still have a good life living amongst their own species and in an environment that is near to nature.”

A Hope for a Better Future

The imminent confiscation of the tigers demonstrates the admirable will and determination of the DNP  to end the commercial and illegal use of wildlife at the Tiger Temple. A move that has been heralded by hundreds of thousands from around the world.

Perhaps, more importantly it represents a timely opportunity to galvanize support and expertise from all over the world so that we can really make a difference for these captive tigers and give them a proper home.

A true tiger sanctuary, where tigers don’t need to do anything else but live happily for the rest of their lives.

Can you see it?

Lead image source: Flickr

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18 comments on “What Will Become of the Tigers Confiscated From Thailand’s Cruel Tiger Temple?”

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Denise Tankha
3 Years Ago

Quite frankly I feel that the tigers are safer with the monks, I\'ve seen and heard only good reports about them, than with concerned citizens who could end up exploiting the tigers. Where were these people when the first lot of little cubs were taken to the Abbot by the villagers for rescue and safety? Vested interest is bad when the party concerned is mute! We hear a lot about Government organised trophy safaris where animals are especially bred to be shot for a price. I think some more investigations should be carried out otherwise these poor tigers will all end up as trophies......

20 Jun 2015

Your concern is valid, but the monks the ones currently exploiting these innocent animals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cddMzxG28Xo

Virginia Greenwood-Warner
3 Years Ago

So glad this horrid place is shut down. The monks only keep wild animals is for their own selfish reasons - they use them to generate an income for themselves. Lazy humans - they should get out there and find proper jobs. Fully agree with Adam Robers!
Can\'t wait until the tigers have all been moved to a sanctuary.

23 Apr 2015

you are an idiot.
These tigers are now food and medicinal products for the Chinese.
This was their sanctuary.
this site and people who do not think critically are a huge detriment to any effort made on the behalf of animals.
Sleep well knowing that some rich chinese business man will be eating one of these tigers testicles while he puts out his cigar in an ashtray made from its paw just to enhance his libido

3 Years Ago

I\'ve been a volunteer at the Tiger Temple and the talk about drugged Tigers is just wrong. Yes the tourists have hands on interaction with them for short periods but as its non government funded this is where they get their funds. ( as with many wildlife sanctuaries I\'ve volunteered with). Only a small cross section of the Tigers are actually seen by the tourists, the ones who will remain captive, however there are many more that have minimal contact with people and live in large semi-wild enclosures, these are the ones they are aiming to release back into the wild. If they are moving them to other sanctuaries in the areas mentioned i can almost guarantee that the enclosures will be much smaller (i\'ve visited the other \'Tiger Temple\' in Chaing Mai which had them in disgustingly small cages and abused with sticks by their handlers).
The Tigers at the Temple thrived in numbers and had large pools to play in, lots of land and food and opportunities they wouldn\'t receive in a cage in a zoo. Such a shame for these majestic creatures, the most well cared for creatures in all of Thailand\'s sanctuaries (bar the soi dog facility in phuket).

20 Jun 2015

What about these? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cddMzxG28Xo

3 Years Ago

Adam Roberts, the head of the American wildlife protection group Born Free USA, said that even without "solid proof" of illegal activity, "the place is of massive concern."

"Tiger Temple markets itself as this haven of tranquility where tigers are rescued from poachers to live a happy life," Roberts told VICE News. "The reality is that it\'s a zoo at which the tigers are kept in very poor conditions, fed inappropriate food and forced to interact with tourists for photo opportunities."

20 Apr 2015

I\'ve spent months here volunteering and that just isn\'t true! They have massive semi-wild enclosures with a hope to release back into the wild, these tigers have no contact with humans. I agree that they should look at starting to use birth control with the captive tigers, but one visit will show you these Tigers live life better than in any other captive environment Thailand has to offer! I think we should be looking and educating the Thai\'s and helping them rather than confiscating the Tigers, after all they\'ve had to manage self-sustained without any professional or government help since the beginning!

3 Years Ago

Through their irresponsible breeding of these animals the temple has createdcreated an eco-disaster just waiting to happen. The breeding of this potentially hybrid or inbred population has created a terrible population of animals that can never be released into the wild.....even if they get their own sanctuary built, they will all have to be sterilised to prevent further breeding of these animals. Remember they have NO CONSRVATION VALUE whatsoever.

3 Years Ago

The commercialization is the reason those animals are still alive. I watched them feeding endangered species there and that was a good thing. I also watched how caring they were with how they treated the tigers. I saw no grave offenses. The collars were not pleasing but at least they were generating enough money to care for the animals No matter what, the fact the animals are still alive and the population of tigers has increased is a good thing. It sounds like the moves ahead are positive though...maybe....hopefully.If those animals end up being poached, which is possible and even probable, then what will you have to say??

Valentine Mehling
3 Years Ago

On one of my trips to Thailand with my wife, who is Thai, we visited the Tiger Temple. I love Tigers and even had the opportunity to play with one in Florida. What I remember most about the Tiger Temple is that I was not happy with the way they treated these magnificent animals. I am glad this place is being shut down and that they will be moved to a more natural environment. Yes, they will still be in captivity but they will no longer be mistreated.

Karen Pottruff
18 Apr 2015

A sanctuary for these tigers needs to be funded by the Thai gov\'t. Something can be learned from The Wildlife Sanctuary in Wisconsin who know how to treat & protect wild animals like tigers.

Noah Levine
3 Years Ago

And so go my favorite creatures. If not with the monks I just hope they receive great care.

3 Years Ago

not sure how moving tigers bred in captivity from one captivity to another is doing them any good.... nothing is changing but the hands of the master. what did the monks do wrong again? it was failed to be specified in this article unless i missed it. sounds like to me that the tigers are being moved from a very interractive zone to a big cage that is a zoo.

17 Apr 2015

1, Tigers were being declawed, defanged, drugged, and chained, so tourists could take pictures with and touch them
2, Tigers that got sick, old, or hurt, "vanished." No documentation on what happened to them. They likely were butchered for the black market or sold to private owners who could do whatever they wanted, including kill them.
3, Tourists were being hurt by the tigers, who roamed the temple grounds

Does none of this seem even remotely unsettling to you? Couldn\'t the fact that they were being exploited for money be enough? They\'re wild animals and predators, not domestic show ponies at the local petting farm. They can grow in excess of 500lbs and break someone\'s neck with a single swipe of their paw, declawed or not.

Moving them to a sanctuary will mean they can get actual care, and won\'t be exploited anymore, nor sold into unknown hands when it suits the caregivers. An animal should never be viewed as a bag of money.

17 Apr 2015


17 Apr 2015


20 Jun 2015

You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cddMzxG28Xo

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