Tiger Temple is one of Thailand’s most notorious tourist attractions. There, guests can get up-close-and-personal with tigers and their cubs, whether it’s posing for photos or getting a hands-on experience interacting with a real, live tiger … well, in captivity.
Tiger Temple representatives claim that species conservation is at the heart of their captive breeding program. However, the tigers held captive at the temple are raised by monks, rather than trained wildlife experts … and spend their days chained in one spot … not exactly the same life that a wild tiger would lead.
Recently, the big cat petting zoo was accused, once again, of tiger trafficking. This time, they’ve responded to the accusations by threatening legal action. The validity of the suit is questionable, but one thing certainly isn’t:
If we don’t act soon, the tiger will go extinct from the wild.
As Tiger Temple, and many other animal attractions breed tigers, and other big cats in captivity, the populations of big cats in the wild continue to drop. In fact, there are currently more tigers living as pets in U.S. backyards than there are in the wild. Tigers bred in captivity cannot be released into a wild habitat for a number of reasons: one being that they are “hand-raised” and have no survival skills, and another is the concern that years of inbreeding taints the genetic variability of these animals. Essentially, releasing them into the wild would be a total disaster.
When the end goal of breeding an animal in captivity is profit, we can hardly consider it conservation. Look at the tigers in the photo above. Is that the kind of life majestic big cats deserve to live? If we don’t put a stop to this and start taking a stand to protect tigers and their natural habitats, the wild tiger will go extinct.
The good news is we can all help end this abuse by raising awareness. The novelty of a tiger selfie may seem amazing, but by doing so, you’re supporting the underlying cruelty of captive big cat attractions. To learn more about how you can help tigers, click here. Most importantly, share this post and encourage others to boycott attractions like Tiger Temple.
Image source: Ruchika Vyas/Asian Correspondent