40 Dead Tiger Cubs Were Found in a Freezer at Thailand’s Tiger Temple

June 1, 2016 | Erica Tennenhouse

Tigers at the Tiger Temple in Thailand in 2004
Photo credit: Michael Janich/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Monk monastery accused of wildlife trafficking and animal abuse.

On Monday, Thai police and wildlife officials investigating Tiger Temple Thailand discovered the remains of 40 tiger cubs preserved in freezers.

They were responding to allegations made by former workers and animal welfare advocates of abuse and exploitation of the animals.

Founded in 1994 as a forest temple and sanctuary for wild animals, including tigers, the temple has become a popular tourist spot in Kanchanaburi province, where visitors pay an admission fee for the chance to play with the tigers and cubs and take selfies with them.

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report released by the animal charity Care for the Wild International in 2008 detailing evidence of illegal tiger trafficking, physical abuse, and high-risk interactions between the tigers and tourists prompted a coalition of 39 conservation groups, including Humane Society International, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and World Animal Protection to send a letter urging the director general of National Parks of Thailand to take action against Tiger Temple.

As recently as January 2016, it was alleged that the temple was engaging in cross-border commerce in live tigers, in violation of both Thai law and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

On its Facebook page, the temple stated that a previous veterinarian working there had initiated the policy of freezing dead cubs rather than cremating them, probably to combat allegations that the temple was selling the cubs.

More than 100 of the 137 living tigers held there have already been removed from the temple and will be taken to government sanctuaries elsewhere in the country. The police operation is due to continue all week, BBC News reported.

Read next: Monk Monastery in Thailand Accused of Supplying Tigers for Illegal Trade

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