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Thailand Tiger Temple Scandal: What You Need To Know About The Exposé That Stirred The World's Conscience

Jun 07, 2016 05:04 AM EDT
Wildlife Officials Raid Controversial Tiger Temple In Thailand
(EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content.) Thai DNP officers collect samples for DNA testing from the carcasses of 40 tiger cubs and a Binturong (also known as a bearcat) found undeclared at the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Tiger Temple on June 1, 2016 in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand.
(Photo : Dario Pignatelli/Getty Images)

Tiger Temple, a multimillion dollar tourist attraction that prides itself as an animal sanctuary, has recently been in hot water after 40 dead tiger cubs in jars had been found inside a freezer within their territory.

Even before the ruckus, the Tiger Temple had been suspected of having been participating in black markets, selling tiger parts for a big money and engaging in unethical breeding.

They have also been accused of poorly treating the animals--beating them and starving them on a daily basis, but the monks of the temple had denied it repeatedly.

Buddhists who are known to promote good relationship with the environment and compassion for all beings are now being questioned.

Here's everything we know so far about the scandal:

What is Tiger Temple?

Tiger Temple, or formally known as Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno, has been keeping the ferocious cats and other animals for 15 years. It charges tourists to take photos with the "tamed" tigers.

The Raid and Accusations

On June 1, 40 dead tiger cubs were found in a freezer in the Tiger Temple. The raid came after officials from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (and police shut down the temple to relocate 137 tigers to government-run sanctuaries.

Aside from the tiger cubs, a small rare species known as a bearcat was also found dead. This discovery further fueled the allegations that they are engaging in unethical breeding. Tiger skins and charms made out of the big cats' organs were also seized.

Few days after the initial raid, more than 30 dead cubs have been found, Australian network news reported.

The raid is the conclusion of a battle that has been going on for years between the government and the temple.

On June 4, officials said the week-long operation to remove nearly 140 tigers from the tiger temple has been completed, as per BBC.

The Denial

The temple denies accusations of abuse and trafficking. In their Facebook page, the temple said the dead cubs were packed in jars to preserve their parts and not to sell them illegally. It added that Thai authorities were "fully aware" that the cubs were kept frozen.

Tiger parts, including bone and penis, are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

According to NBC News, Thai authorities charged three Buddhist monks after they were allegedly caught trying to smuggle tiger skins and other parts out of the tiger sanctuary at the center of abuse allegations. The truck carrying the tiger skins and charms made out of the animal's parts were also seized by the authorities.

The Fall Down of Tiger Temple

The Tiger Temple is closed indefinitely and DNP is following protocol to ensure justice is served.

The DNP facilities, being "unfit" for the tigers' conditions, are currently pressured to improve their sanctuary for the animals. Authorities are also thinking of building a new sanctuary for tigers, along with the other animals.

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