The Tiger Temple has it’s own Questions and Answers section on it’s website. Tiger Temple answers courtesy of the Tiger Temple website. The Truth is provided by CWI reports and eyewitness reports from staff, volunteers and visitors.
Q1) How many tigers are at the temple?
THE TIGER TEMPLE SAYS – There are 17 tigers at the temple. Seven were orphans rescued from the wild and ten have been breed and born here at the temple. (information as of December 2005)
THE TRUTH – As of January 1st 2010, there are 49 tigers at the Tiger Temple (source: Richard Stevenson, the Tiger Temple Foreign Manager). Given that the Tiger Temple had no license to breed tigers until recently, and the low number of tigers in 2005, there should be nowhere near that many tigers there. Unless of course the temple has been illegally breeding and trading.
Q2) How did the temple come to have tigers?
THE TIGER TEMPLE SAYS – Local people intercepted cubs, whose mothers were killed from poachers brought them to the temple. The Abbot took them in when no-one else would and cares for them as his sons and daughters.
THE TRUTH – Care for the Wild International have been in contact with a Thai wildlife trader who claims to have sold the original first few tigers to the temple as a tourist attraction. The original tigers are not the only ones to have been bought and sold by the temple.
Q3) What kind of tigers are these?
THE TIGER TEMPLE SAYS – They are Indo-Chinese tigers and they are native to Thailand , Laos , Burma , Cambodia , Vietnam Malaysia and Southeast China .
THE TRUTH – Several of the animals have had their DNA tested, and have been proven to be hybrids. Any tigers that are bred at the Tiger Temple in Thailand are therefore also hybrids. In terms of conserving the Indo-Chinese species of tiger, the Tiger Temple and it’s hybrids offer no contribution to conservation, as hybrids cannot be released into the wild.
Q4) How is it that they are so calm?
THE TIGER TEMPLE SAYS – They have been hand-reared with compassion by the monks and have had interaction since they were young cubs. So they have imprinted on humans and have accepted us part of their lives. They are also use to people coming to the temple and having photos with as it is a daily routine.
THE TRUTH- The tigers have been handreared with as much compassion as a sledgehammer and are subject to frequent cruelty and animal abuse.. They are mistreated from birth, terrified into submission, and beaten when they are not ‘calm’. Do not mistake calmness for terror.
Q5) Are the tigers sedated or drugged in anyway?
THE TIGER TEMPLE SAYS – No, they are not drugged. Tigers are nocturnal animals, so they sleep during the heat of the day. The tiger’s eyes are better adapted to lower light levels than their prey species, so they can surprise their prey with greater ability in darkness. This means they are more active and hunt at night. Adult tigers are naturally lazier, whereas the cubs are more active and will play if it is not too hot. A wild animal that has been sedated is more dangerous because they become disorientated with their surroundings and everything around them becomes a threat. This brings out their wild instincts and they are more likely to attack.
THE TRUTH – Yes, tigers sleep during the heat of the day. They are not, however, incapable of waking up, as many of the tigers at the temple are. If tigers slept so deeply, as one tourist commented on, that they could not feel themselves being dragged around by the throat, the species would be extinct in the wild. It is also correct, that a sedated animal can be dangerous, but give the animal enough sedative and they are completely helpless and out cold.
Q6) Has anyone ever been attacked by the tigers?
THE TIGER TEMPLE SAYS – No. No-one has ever been attacked by the tigers. The monks and Tiger Temple staff have very good control over the tigers and can read their behaviour extremely well. The tiger handlers get the occasional scratch while playing with the cubs but nothing serious has ever happen at the temple.
THE TRUTH – Yes, and frequently. In one incident, a Thai woman had her hand badly damaged by DaoRuang the tiger, and the wound required numerous stitches to close it.
In August 2009, 2 volunteers at the Tiger Temple were hospitalised after a tiger attack – images of their treatment can be seen in the gallery.
One French volunteer was attacked and had her shirt ripped open, claws narrowly missing her neck. A Danish volunteer who was tackled to the ground by Dao Ruang and bitten on the leg. The resulting injury got infected, and the volunteer needed medical treatment at a hospital.
In December 2009, a volunteer and a staff member were undergoing treatment for bite puncture wounds and scratches. There are also many other unconfirmed reports of attacks on tourists at the temple, although these are played down.
Q7) So they don’t ever get angry or aggressive?
THE TIGER TEMPLE SAYS – Like any animal, including humans, they have their moments when they do not want to do something and have a growl. But this is just a warning that they are not happy with the situation and when you stop they are happy to get a pat. There has been no real aggression against anyone.
THE TRUTH – Yes, the Tiger Temple tigers frequently get angry and aggressive. This is proven by the savage documented attacks on staff, volunteers, and reportedly visitors.
Q8) What do the tigers eat?
THE TIGER TEMPLE SAYS – Whole chicken, beef and dried cat food. The meat is cooked due to the Asian bird flu and so the tigers do not get the taste of blood and associate blood with food. The dried cat food replaces the nutrients lost from the meat during the cooking process.
THE TRUTH – The tigers are fed chicken carcasses (from which the best meat has been removed for human consumption), with some pork or beef off-cuts, largely made of fat, and occasional packets of commercial dog or cat food. The usual ration is no more than 3 kg, which is nowhere near the recommended allowance. A tiger fed on a healthy diet does not produce green diarrhea, as documented by visitors and welfare organisation staff.
Q9) Will they ever be released back into the wild?
THE TIGER TEMPLE SAYS – No. Not this generation because they cannot hunt and feed themselves. Also they are too familiar with humans. The tiger in the wild is very secretive and fearful but these have no fear of humans. The next generation will be released back to the wild, onto a reserve. They will have little human contact. They will be trained to hunt and feed themselves on the ‘ Tiger Island ’, currently under construction and then released back into the wild.
THE TRUTH – None of the tigers, those born already and those born in the future, will ever be released into the wild, in Thailand or anywhere else. Future generations cannot be released into the wild due to the fact that they are hybrids, not pure-bred tigers, with pure DNA. The Tiger Island reserve is not a reserve, it is a larger concerte enclosure, with more outside room, but it is not, and could never be considered as ‘the wild’ as the Tiger Temple claim. Tourists will still be charge admission to see the tigers on Tiger Island. Any hunting and enrichment on the island will be for the benefit of the tourists.