Bangkok : Thailand’s famed “Tiger Temple” was in disarray on Tuesday after officials descended on the sanctuary amid allegations that monks who ran the outfit were abusing their charges.
The Tiger Temple in Kachanburi province was dogged by allegations from wildlife and animal-rights organisations that it was breeding tigers for profit and selling animal parts, nbc news reported.
Buddhist monks and lay workers at the facility west of Bangkok deny the accusations.
“If there’s any illegal trading or smuggling, there would have been … evidence,” said Supitpong Pakdijarung, managing director of the Tiger Temple Co. “It has been more than a year and the case hasn’t gone anywhere,” he said.
Temple officials earlier this year handed over control of the 137 tigers to create a zoo — but those plans did not work. Authorities descended on the sanctuary on Monday, sedating and caging up the striped felines. Tourists mingled with dozens of visibly distressed temple volunteers as the caging and tranquilising operation was underway.
Tanya Erzinclioglu, who has worked at the temple since 2010, said she was devastated to see the tigers being taken away, adding that she had seen no evidence of thes striped animals being mistreated.
Authorities descended on the sanctuary on Monday, sedating and caging up the striped felines. The decision was taken following allegations that some tigers were being sold into a “transnational trafficking crime organisation”. Those allegations were made by the temple’s own vet, officials added. Pakdijarung, the managing director of the Tiger Temple Co., Ltd. dismissed the vet’s allegations as “false” and questioned whether the government was prepared to take on caring for nearly 140 tigers.
The DNP said the process of removing the tigers could take at least a week. As of Tuesday evening, only around 20 of the centre’s 137 tigers were sedated, caught and caged.