Thailand’s Tiger Temple Is Reopening.

Tiger Temple Thailand

After being shut down and having the full extent of it’s abuse and illegality put on full display for the world to see last year, now the infamous Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi is to reopen with a new name. 

Last year, after years of outcry and campaigning from wildlife protection charities and organisations, and numerous false starts and failed attempts, the Tiger Temple in Thailand was finally raided and shut down.

This was a moment of triumph for many campaigners, including myself. I have been urging travellers to boycott the Tiger Temple and calling for it to be shut down for years.

The abuse and torture of the tigers held at the supposed Buddhist facility was well known to many campaigners and organisations, the evidence had been undeniable since an investigation by Care For The Wild International in 2008 and more recently the report by National Geographic and Cee4Life, but the full extent of the torture, the abuse and the sheer level of horrific illegality shocked everyone.

Tiger Temple shut down and tiger seized

What followed that seizure and shut down has been nothing short of a horrendous act of incompetence at best, and downright corruption at worst. The granting of a zoo license shortly before the raid was conducted, the lack of facilities to properly house the confiscated tigers, the volunteers at the temple completely denying any knowledge of what was going on (despite the facts being rammed down their throats for years) the lack of progress on the prosecution of the abbot, the monks and the staff who worked at the temple and committed these crimes and now the seemingly quiet sweeping under the rug of the whole case, all of this and so much more has been one giant cluster fuck that has endangered any attempt to properly care for and protect any tigers that were rescued from the temple, and now promises to allow things to return back to the way they were.

But now the Tiger Temple is essentially reopening with a new name.

A so called ‘zoo’ is nearing completion right next door to the temple itself, and this will be in no way anything even approaching a genuine, responsible zoo.

Although legally this new zoo has nothing to do with the Tiger Temple, on paper at least, it is owned and is being operated by the Golden Tiger (Thailand) limited company, and reports suggest that is even what the new facility will be called. Surely it is just a coincidence then that this is the name the Tiger Temple company legally changed its name to in February 2017?

With corruption seemingly running rife amongst the Thai authorities, zero convictions of the abbot or an of the monks involved in the Tiger Temple, even private legal proceedings against the abbot and the temple getting nowhere, and nowhere for the Thai government to properly house or keep the confiscated and rescued tigers, it seems like all this is just a rebranding exercise for the tiger temple who now want to be seen as true rescuers of some of the tigers that were confiscated, as well as other tigers from another breeding centre that is struggling to handle them.

Tiger Temple Abuse Thailand.

Of course all the usual letter of the law games are being played, with talk from officials about the new zoo having to adhere to certain standards to be able to operate, the truth of the matter is they are being allowed to return to the status quo of owning, breeding and exploiting tigers despite its illegality being undisputed.

Remember, this is the exact same group, run by the exact same people that:

  • Routinely exploited and abused tigers and other animals.
  • Beat and starved tigers to make them compliant for tourist selfies.
  • Illegally bred tigers without any oversight or contribution to international breeding programmes.
  • Contributed and benefited from illegal international wildlife trafficking networks.
  • Illegally practiced wild capture of tigers.
  • Doctored official veterinary records.
  • Butchered tigers for body parts for sale on the black market.
  • Kept 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer.

All this and much, much more. This is no longer simple accusations either. The proof has been found and is undeniable.

So what can travellers do?

Boycott the new facility and continue to add campaign pressure to prosecute those responsible for the original Tiger Temple.

Do not in any way support this new zoo with your custom or your tourist money.

By refusing to have anything to do with the new ‘zoo’ – and I hate using that term for it – in large numbers, travellers can send a clear and distinct message that this kind of exploitative tourism is no longer tolerable. That travellers and tourists will no longer support it and allow people to profit from it.

There is currently no real responsible alternative for the tigers, nor is there any will from the corrupt Thai authorities to give them one. When the temple was originally raided last year, Four Paws, an animal welfare group from Austria, started to campaign the wildlife department of Thailand for the construction of a true tiger sanctuary on government land, large enough to hold 200 animals. This would allow the tigers to live out their lives in semi wild conditions, where they are left alone as much as possible and are supported by real conservation efforts.

This type of true sanctuary works extremely well, as has been proven with orang utan sanctuaries in Borneo and man others around the world.

True sanctuaries like this can be supported monetarily by true responsible tourism, where profits from tourism not only allow for the upkeep and care of the animals and their new environment, but can also provide a healthy profit for the government too.

This is the real way forward. This is how we can give the tigers of Thailand a chance at a real future.

So help spread the word, support Four Paws and other international groups in their efforts to get a true tiger sanctuary in Thailand, and in the meantime, whatever you do, do not go and support this despicable new attraction.

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

Related Articldes

Is This The End Of Thailand’s Tiger Temple?

It IS Finally The End Of The Tiger Temple: But What Happens To The Tigers Now?

No More Tiger Selfies.

Thailand.

Thailand’s Cruel Tiger Temple Finally Shut Down.

Why Are People Still Visiting Thailand’s Tiger Temple?

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Michael Huxley is a published author, freelance travel writer and founder of Bemused Backpacker. He is also a charge nurse by vocation with an interest in emergency nursing and travel medicine, but his real passion is travel. Since finding his wanderlust a decade ago in South East Asia, he has bounced from one end of the planet to another and has no intention of slowing down.

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Posted in Responsible Travel
54 comments on “Thailand’s Tiger Temple Is Reopening.
  1. I cannot believe this, after all that campaigning and all the evidence that came out after they were raided last year, that nothing will happen to these monks and they are just being allowed to carry on as normal?? I am so disgusted and angry!

    • I am too Alice. I am still going to raise awareness and urge a boycott of this new facility too. Hopefully it will be a commercial failure and the authorities are forced to find a more responsible alternative where travellers can pour their money into.

  2. Joanne says:

    All this is doing is adding a legitimacy to wildlife abuse and exploitation in tourism. Thailand is basically saying that this is okay and as long as the money keeps rolling in they don’t care. I second that boycott absolutely. They should be ashamed.

  3. Alanna says:

    Disgusting. I just have no words for this.

  4. Nichola says:

    My worry about this rebranding that they are doing is that backpackers and tourists – even if they are aware of the abuse that the tiger temple was involved in – will think that place is long gone and this is an entirely new facility, and new must mean responsible. Essentially they are whitewahing their image of abuse and they should not be allowed to do that.

  5. Gemma says:

    I cant believe this is being allowed to happen. Its disgusting and heartbreaking. I knew the temple being shut down was too good to be true.

  6. Alex says:

    But the tigers that were confiscated do have to go somewhere right? Weren’t there reports that the government facilities not being up to scratch either? Surely a zoo is better than that?

    • Yes you are right there were issues, and I would agree that a zoo would be better if it were responsible, sustainable and upheld international guidelines from WAZA and others about the facilities and care for the animals, but this new facility is so far removed from that it cannot even be allowed to call itself a zoo and should be shut down. Thailand has the opportunity, the space and resources to create a protected national park for the tigers and be a world leader in responsible tiger tourism, and they are failing miserably.

  7. Tasha says:

    I’m so disheartened by this, Ive been following all your articles on this from the start and genuinely thought some progress was being made. So sad.

  8. Tasha says:

    And I know its a bit off topic but what happened to your partnership with Care For The Wild International? I cant even get on their website anymore.

    • Unfortunately Tasha the charity Care For The Wild – and their campaign RIGHT tourism – was swallowed up by Born Free and essentially dismantled and erased quietly over time. It was extremely sad to see and absolutely pointless. I couldn’t carry on any partnership with Born Free after that because although we broadly agree on animal welfare, we disagree on fundamental points such as zoos and wildlife tourism. Their approach is simplistic and I hated that they shut down the RIGHT tourism campaign which was something I was passionate about.

  9. karenorso says:

    As I read this unbelievable turn of events, I relive the horrific abuse of these defenseless tigers. Is there anything on Facebook we can share to expose this once AGAIN?

    • There is/was a petition to stop the building of the facility but that has all but failed since the new ‘zoo’ is about to open. Feel free to share this article as far and as often as you can. The more awareness is raised the more people will boycott the zoo and the better it will be in the long run.

  10. Sarah says:

    The Thai government should be ashamed of themselves. I’ll be joining your boycott for sure.

  11. Ste Jones says:

    But there will always be idiot tourists who still think it is okay and still go to this new temple.

    • Of course there will, but things will change and as long as there are enough of us who boycott attractions like this to make a serious economic impact long term, then more ethical options will start appearing. Just look at what happened to the elephant trekking industry in Thailand in the three short years I and others first started writing about it.

  12. Kelly says:

    This is absolutely awful, I have no words for it! I hope all backpackers and travellers do boycott it. Well done for spreading the word.

  13. mrsmahmoud says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article and bringing this to the our attention.

  14. David Sanders says:

    Shockingly obvious corruption involved in this from the start, a part of me thinks how the hell can this happen but then I think I’m not surprised either. Well done on your call for a boycott.

  15. laura woodhouse says:

    I think it is so amazing you are raising awareness for this. The more people who know to avoid the new tiger temple and actually do so the better. Well done.

  16. Mai Ling says:

    Disgusting people. I cant believe authorities are allowing this.

  17. Dianne says:

    This wants putting a stop to straight away.This is bang out of order.We can not let this happen.All wild animals should be free free from harm.

  18. Chris says:

    I vote for putting the abbot in a zoo and feeding him once a month. Maybe.

  19. Lynne says:

    How is this allowed to keep going?!
    Evil, evil man! How is he even allowed to stay a Buddist abbot?! Should be punished!!

  20. Rashmi Varma says:

    Yes! We need a boycott. Don’t allow him to open such an evil place again,all should boycott it if that happens.

  21. Joanne says:

    Thailand is a member of CITES (convention on illegal trade in endangered species) right? What are they doing about it? Why aren’t they removing Thailand from the group if they are clearly sanctioning these activities?

  22. Darren says:

    One of the big problems as I see it is Tha Thailand is a very religious country where the state is actually fearful of moving against the church (or whatever the Buddhist equivalent is). So when you get one of the highest ranked abbots in charge of somewhere like this he is essentially given endless get out of jail free cards and can get away with doing whatever he wants. Not a good thing when he is clearly an evil ****** who thinks nothing of abusing animals for his own gain and profit.

  23. Gemma says:

    Aaaah this is so infuriating! The evidence is right there! It is irrefutable! Why aren’t the police pressing charges? Why aren’t the authorities revoking the zoo licence? Why?!

  24. Reena Haizam says:

    Follow the money and follow the corruption. This whole thing has made me sick and I wont just be boycotting the tiger zoo I wont be going back to Thailand until they wholesale change the way they do things.

  25. Kieth Yuen says:

    It is disgusting how the Thai monks treat those animals and how the Thai people condone their actions. Animals should not be treated this way for tourist pleasure

  26. Lena Fischer says:

    What the hell? Why? I cannot believe this!

  27. Alex says:

    I cannot believe this! Why are tourists so stupid to support this in the first place. If they did not give their money the Thai government would not reopen this horrible place.

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