Will you act to stop the commercial breeding, illegal trafficking and cruel treatment of captive tigers in Thailand?

  • March 2, 2017

The issue:

Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple was closed down last year amid allegations of illegal breeding, cruelty and black market trafficking of big cats.

In May, more than 500 officers from Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) raided the tourist attraction where they found 40 dead cubs in freezers, 20 more in jars, and tiger skins, jewelry made from tiger parts, and other endangered animal “products.”

Now, the Tiger Temple has launched an offshoot company that will soon open a new tiger zoo: Golden Tiger (Thailand) Co. Ltd.

All Asian big cats are listed on Appendix I of CITES – the treaty that regulates international trade in endangered species. Breeding tigers for any purpose other than conservation violates a 2007 decision stating that ‘tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives’.

Wildlife experts say that the discoveries at the Tiger Temple have accelerated government efforts to strengthen the protocols and regulations needed to better monitor captive animal facilities and more effectively prosecute wildlife crime. However, construction of the new Golden Tiger facility continues and it is unknown whether they will be given a license to legally breed tigers.

The main welfare concerns witnessed by investigators* at tourist venues of this type include:

  • A constant stream of tiger cubs is needed for visitors to pet and feed, so tiger cubs are cruelly separated from their mothers, two to three weeks after birth, so that females quickly produce another litter: it’s the equivalent of a “puppy farm” for tigers.
  • Young cubs, used as photo props with tourists, are handled by hundreds of people a day, leading to stress and injury through lack of sleep, loss of their mother, and poor nutrition.
  • In order to make a tiger “behave” – a wide-roaming predator that’s king of the jungle in the wild – they are harshly punished. Personal accounts, photos and videos have documented physical abuse and starvation used to control tigers.
  • Most tigers are often housed in small concrete cages or barren enclosures with limited access to fresh water. Fifty percent of the tigers observed were in cages with less that 20sqm per animal, a far cry from the 16-32km they would roam in a single night in the wild.
  • More than one in ten (12 percent ) of the tigers observed by investigators showed behavioural problems such as repetitive pacing and biting their tails – signs of stress.

*Source World Animal Protection

What you can do:

Email: Thailand’s Environment Minister, General Surasak Karnjanarat, expressing that Thailand should meet its CITES commitment and no longer permit commercial facilities or tourist attractions to breed tigers; that you are opposed to the opening of the Golden Tiger facility; and that the tigers confiscated from the Tiger Temple deserve the new sanctuary proposed by Four Paws. Be respectful and polite – you are more likely to be taken seriously if you are.

Suggested email (simply copy and paste it into your email)

To: General Sursak Karnjanarat

Subject: Reopening of Tiger Tourist venue

I was hugely impressed with the Thai Government’s support for, and action in, closing the Tiger Temple last year. While horrified by the tiger products that were found inside, I felt reassured that the rescued tigers would be saved from a life of cruelty, they would not end up dead in the illegal tiger trade and they would live out their natural lives in safety.

The recent reports that a new facility – a company created by the Tiger Temple – is currently being constructed now seems to threaten the lives of even more tigers in Thailand. My fear is that the facility will mass-breed these tigers and feed them into the illegal wildlife trade in direct violation of both Thailand’s laws and its CITES commitments.

The global community was horrified by what was found at the Tiger Temple, and we all are trusting that everyone who had a part in these wildlife crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of Thai law.

I would like to respectfully request that the Thai Government fully support CITES and acts to prohibit breeding at all of Thailand’s tiger tourist attractions and other captive facilities to stop illegal trade in tigers.

As a supporter of the TigerTime campaign, I am passionate about protecting the last remaining wild tigers by ending the illegal trade that perpetuates a growing demand for tiger skins, bones, teeth, claws and other parts.

Yours sincerely