Dead tiger cubs found at Thai temple

A Thai wildlife official with some of the 40 dead tiger cubs found in a freezer during a raid at a controversial "tiger temple" in Kanchanaburi province yesterday.
A Thai wildlife official with some of the 40 dead tiger cubs found in a freezer during a raid at a controversial "tiger temple" in Kanchanaburi province yesterday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BANGKOK • Thai wildlife officials have discovered dozens of dead cubs inside a freezer at a controversial "tiger temple" which has been locked in a long-running dispute with the authorities and animal rights groups, police said yesterday.

Officials found the tiger cubs during an operation to remove dozens of adult cats from the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua temple in the western province of Kanchanaburi.

"We found 40 tiger cubs... they were aged about one or two days when they died but we don't quite know yet how long they have been dead," said police colonel Bandith Meungsukhum, a local officer.

Mr Adisorn Noochdumrong, the deputy head of Thailand's parks department, said it would file charges against the temple for keeping the carcasses without permission.

"A keeper said he was told to place the carcasses when they died in cold storage," he said.

The temple has long been popular among mainly foreign visitors who flock there to be photographed - for a fee - next to the scores of exotic feline pets.

Wildlife officials say the complex is illegal. They have battled the monks for years to try to close it down. The dispute has been complicated by the fact that the secular Thai authorities are often reluctant to intervene in the affairs of the clergy. This week, officials were granted a court order to seize the cats and they have so far removed about 45 adults.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2016, with the headline 'Dead tiger cubs found at Thai temple'. Print Edition | Subscribe