Tiger Temple – A Controversial Tourist Attraction

Tiger Temple

Shopping malls and beaches are not the only destinations that attract tourists to vacation in Thailand. A good number of them head to Western Thailand to visit the Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno Forest Monastery, otherwise popularly known as the Tiger Temple.

It is a Buddhist temple that functions as a tourist attraction and a wildlife sanctuary for tigers and other animals roaming the area of the Saiyok district of Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province. The Tiger Temple was founded by the Therav?da Buddhist organization in 1994. It has been described as a sanctuary for animals – although more than a handful of those found within the temple’s compound were born in Tiger Temple.

Tiger Temple Thailand has become a popular attraction for tourists from all around the world. The allure of the opportunity to be at very close range, to be personal with “tame” tigers, and to get a picture taken with them is perceived too good to pass up.

After paying the admission fee, tourists are given the chance to marvel at and take pictures of these big cats. For an additional fee, brave vacationers can get intimately close with one of these animals and have their picture taken right beside the tigers.


The Controversies Surrounding Tiger Temple

This infamous temple is one of the most controversial tourist spots in Thailand. The temple is surrounded by controversies regarding the illegal trade of tigers and the treatment of the animals under its custody. Some claim that the Tiger Temple has been and still is involved in the profitable business of tiger trade.

Despite the claims that the Tiger Temple is a wildlife sanctuary, some critics believe that the treatment of the animals found within, particularly with the tigers, is not in accordance with internationally recognized standards.

Reports of maltreatment and cruelty to these tigers including scare tactics such as punching, kicking, and crushing the testicles – and the risky interaction between the tigers and the people that come to visit them – has fired up complaints and controversies criticizing the temple’s practices.

Most believe that the philosophy of the Tiger Temple with regard to wildlife conservation is not only contrary to well-established principles and standards, but is also flawed. After receiving negative reports and complaints from both visitors and volunteers to the temple, the organization Care for the Wild International (CWI) carried out an investigation into the temple’s activities. Based on their findings, they condemned the practices of the Tiger Temple: the exploitation and mistreatment of the animals, tiger trading, and the tolerant character towards the extremely risky interaction between the animals and the visitors. However, further claims regarding the use of drugs to pacify or to tame tigers for photos have not been confirmed.

On the other hand, some of the volunteers in the temple assert that most of these allegations are based on rumors and are not supported by any form of hard evidence. They admit that Tiger Temple Thailand may not be perfect, but this fact does not necessarily mean that activities or practices in the past are still being carried out in the present.

They did admit the fact that the monks of the temple were previously engaged in tiger trading. They blame this on the monks’ lack of knowledge in the international standards and rules involved in wildlife trading. Concerning the abuses, the volunteers also admit that certain forms of treatment or techniques were utilized on these animals in order to tame and maintain dominance over them. However, such techniques are no longer used.

The controversies involving the Tiger Temple have not prevented people from visiting this popular tourist attraction. Most people leave with a pleasurable experience and a photograph reminding them of a once in a lifetime event.

The temple claims that the fees paid by the visitors go towards the construction of a permanent sanctuary for the tigers that will allow them to be free from human interaction and influence as well as enable them to roam without any restrictions. Only time will tell whether or not the plan of creating a permanent home for these tigers will ever materialize.

Until the time comes when these animals are transferred to their new haven, those that are intrigued by the Tiger Temple, by the tigers, or by the controversies, can visit it and experience for themselves what this controversial tourist attraction has to offer.