Merriam-Webster defines “Sanctuary” as, “A place where someone or something is protected or given shelter: the protection that is provided by a safe place.”
However, according to NBC News, Tiger Temple, a supposed sanctuary located west of Bangkok, Thailand is far from safe and is not protecting this highly endangered species. In fact, the facility allegedly uses tiger parts to make “traditional Chinese Medicine”. Chinese Medicine is a multi-million dollar business that may be forcing tigers to the brink of extinction while at the same time tigers are bred in many sections of Asia, (particularly China) to harvest their parts.
An article recently published by nbcnews.com reports that…
“Thai authorities charged three Buddhist monks (last) Thursday after they were allegedly caught trying to smuggle tiger skins and other parts out of a tiger sanctuary at the center of abuse allegation.”
Officials stopped a pick-up truck as it was about to depart from the sanctuary, recovering tiger skins and tiger parts that were made into charms from the truck.
Additionally, in a laboratory in the temple, officials found 20 glass jars that contained baby tigers and tiger organs. According to the officials, this discovery strengthened their suspicion that these items were being gathered to make folk medicine. Deputy director- general of the Department of National Parks, Adisorn Nuchdamrong said, “The jars have labels, so I think they’ve made medicine here.” Nuchdamrong has been overseeing the raid to search the premises, and to remove the temple’s tigers. Due to allegations of abuse, during the removal of the tigers from the “sanctuary”, 40 dead cubs were found in the Tiger Temple’s freezer by wildlife authorities.
Apparently the Tiger Temple’s reputation has been faltering due to the many allegations that have been growing with many reports of illicit wildlife trafficking and animal abuse. Last Monday, armed with a court order, authorities confiscated 137 tigers from the Temple that subsequently were moved to a wildlife sanctuary run by the government.
The Tiger Temple is a Buddhist-run “sanctuary”. This very popular tourist attraction is where tourists pay approximately $20 to pose for pictures with the tigers and to feed their cubs.
However, in 2014 a former volunteer at the Temple wrote a piece for Matador Network in which he disclosed the outrageous and horrible conditions under which the tigers were living at the Temple. He claimed that the tigers were poorly cared for, insufficiently exercised, and since red meat was too expensive for the monks, the tigers were fed daily on boiled chicken. What’s more, tourist donations did not go to help the tigers; instead they went to enlarging the temple. The volunteer had originally signed up to work for 30 days, but left in 16 days; totally disgusted with the practices going on in the temple.
So, it gives me great pleasure to announce that according to Matador Network officials are in the process of having the Tiger Temple closed and they are working hard to not only have all the tigers permanently removed, but to also legally prevent them from acquiring any tigers in the future.
Righteous Buddhists will not indulge in acts of cruelty toward animals. Buddhists are encouraged to love all living beings and not restrict their love only to humans. Buddhists practice loving kindness towards every living being. The Buddha was very clear in his teachings against any form of cruelty to any living being. Buddhists believe that cruelty to animals is yet another expression of mankind’s uncontrolled greed.
In this writer’s opinion, the Buddhist Monks in the Tiger Temple are exemplars of uncontrolled greed based on their outrageous acts of cruelty to these tigers under their care. They are exploiting them for every dollar they can raise from unsuspecting donators to use for their purposes, and selling the parts of these magnificent tigers for their egregious avarice. Let’s hope the day will quickly arrive when the Tiger Temple will be permanently closed and all these cats will find safety and protection in a legitimate, caring sanctuary.
Note from Michael: I believe that very recently real steps are being taken to close the temple. It has been a long road. Thailand was in breach of CITES for allowing the temple to trade in tiger body parts.
What are your thoughts about Tiger Temple? Share them in a comment.