Tiger Temple volunteers appealing for donation to keep seized tigers alive

By Lincoln Tan

A tiger in one of the new smaller enclosures they have moved to since they left the Tiger Temple in Thailand. Photo / Supplied
A tiger in one of the new smaller enclosures they have moved to since they left the Tiger Temple in Thailand. Photo / Supplied

Former tiger carers at a popular Thai tourist attraction are appealing for donations to keep the animals alive.

Thai wildlife department officers last month seized 147 tigers from the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, a tourist hotspot for many Kiwi visitors to Thailand.

New Zealand animal rights organisation Safe is asking New Zealanders to stop supporting all unethical animal tourism activities.

At the temple, they discovered 60 frozen and bottled tiger cub carcasses, pelts and parts of other endangered species and tiger skins inside the abbot's private residence.

One tiger has died, and former carer Linda Kristiansen said the animals were struggling to adjust to their new surroundings and diet.

"So many people were so thankful that they got rescued from the temple but without knowing the facilities they have gone to.

The standard they are living in at the moment is unacceptable," she said.

Former Tiger Temple volunteer carer Linda Kristiansen. Photo / Lincoln Tan
Former Tiger Temple volunteer carer Linda Kristiansen. Photo / Lincoln Tan

"At the moment the tigers are the ones suffering from human mistakes which I believe is very unfair to them and they deserve better."

She said at least $200,000 was needed and volunteers are running a crowdfunding appeal to build better enclosures for the relocated tigers.

"Already people have forgotten about them and now 146 tigers are sitting in small cages without any access to any trees, grass, open spaces to roam around and no enrichment," Kristiansen said.

"One has already died, several are not eating and a lot of them are also showing signs of stereotypical behaviour they did not have at the temple."

Kristiansen said she was shocked the alleged wildlife trafficking, abuse and slaughter had taken place right under the volunteers' noses.

Thai tour guide Tha Khiaewengarm said the temple was popular with Kiwi and Aussie visitors to the district."New Zealand tourists always ask for two things when they come here; to see the Bridge over River Kwai and visit the Tiger Temple," Khiaewengarm said.Safe executive director Hans Kriek said wild animals belonged in the wild and not on farms or zoos."We urge New Zealanders not to participate in activities such as elephant rides and posing with tigers," he said.The World Wildlife Fund last month also called on Asian states to close their tiger farms to boost the fight against the black-market trade in animal parts. It said the tiger population in farms was about 8000, more than the estimated 3900 living in the wild. However, WWF acknowledged that a blanket closure of tiger farms without a proper resettlement plan would be disastrous for the animals.

- NZ Herald

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