Do not go
Published/Last edited or updated: 9th February, 2017
Opened in 1994, the site quickly exploded into a major attraction where tourists paid serious cash to cuddle and pet adult tigers and cubs. In 2016, the Thai Department of National Parks (DNP) raided the temple, discovering pelts and other illegal wildlife products while removing all of the tigers.
For many years before the raid, we at Travelfish suggested that travellers steer clear of the temple due to widespread suspicions that tigers were being drugged. The situation was worse than we imagined. A resident monk—if you can call him that—was caught attempting to smuggle out the most incriminating evidence, and the frozen bodies of 40 cubs were found in a freezer.
After months of standoffs with the monks and staff, the DNP finally removed 137 tigers and relocated them to government-run facilities. Some former volunteers expressed support for the temple’s abbot while worrying that the tigers would not be better off with the government. In our opinion, the evidence speaks for itself.
At time of writing the Tiger Temple still shows up on tour brochures and is open to the public, we were told, but houses only birds, donkeys and a few other animals. There are no longer tigers at the Tiger Temple. We would not have visited back when it was booming, and we sure as hell would not go now.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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