You may like to read our list of 8 Responsible Alternatives to the Tiger Temple

The following is a Guest Post written by our friends Cody & Giselle of Mindful Wanderlust.

This post talks about the realities of animal treatment at one of the largest attractions for foreign tourists throughout Southeast Asia and it’s a subject we both feel very strongly about. Please travel responsibly

When we first discovered that we could visit tiger “sanctuaries” in India and Thailand we were thrilled at the prospect of being able to spend some time with the beautiful beasts, petting their massive bodies, and experiencing the power they exude.

We decided to do more research on these “sanctuaries” before making the decision to visit one as we do with any place that claims to promote the well being and care of animals.

There was a 2 year investigation done by CWI (Care for the Wild International) that revealed disturbing animal abuse and tiger trafficking at the tiger temple in Kanchanaburi, one of Thailand’s premiere tourist destinations. We didn’t want to just take their word for it, so we decided to do our own investigating.

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We decided to visit the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi. In our experience the tigers seemed to be sedated. There is an area where you can pay extra to get an up close and personal photo with a tiger.

We witnessed an employee take a tourist by the wrist over to a tiger, and then proceed to scruff the tiger and splash a whole bottle of water in his/her face to wake them up. They were chained so close to the ground that they couldn’t properly stand up. In another area employees were dangling raw meat above the tigers to tease them.

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These tiger temples/kingdoms have been said to even go so far as to remove the tigers claws and teeth, even the tendons in their wrists are clipped so they can’t swat or run with a lot of speed to ensure that tourists are not harmed when visiting.

These “sanctuaries” claim that they promote conservation and breeding of tigers, and aim to return them to the wild, yet most animals born in captivity would never be able to survive or fend for themselves if set free, so there is no conservation value.

There is even speculation that some of the tigers bred are sold to be used in canned hunts.

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Choose a responsible elephant tour:

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The tigers are far from being able to roam free, they are chained and confined to a small cage for several hours a day. Adult tigers suffer from several behavioral and physical problems, including pacing back and forth and self mutilation. This may be due to not having their natural needs met, as well as suffering from abuse.

When visitors choose to take photos with the tigers for an extra fee, staff prop the tigers up on heavy concrete bowls and force them to keep a captivating pose. Tourists are then able to pet, sit, or lie on the tigers until they get that perfect shot.

Tigers are also kicked, punched, and pulled into position by their tail which we witnessed. They are also controlled by having urine squirted in their face at close proximity. In the wild tigers use urine as an aggressive or territorial signal. In a tiger temple when it is humans doing the squirting, it just seems cruel, and wrong.

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After everything we experienced, we don’t think these facilities are any place for tigers, they are for human entertainment, and we will continue to fight for the freedom of all animals.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the excitement, awe, and enjoyment of beautiful wild animals, that we don’t really think about what they might want. We want to be around them, we want to caress them, we want to give them love, and experience their energy. If you truly love animals. Help them to be happy.

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“The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.
—- Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher

What do you think? Have you had a similar or different experience?