NEWS

Thailand Tiger Temple Raid Reveals 40 Dead Cubs In Kitchen Freezer At Buddhist Site

'They must be of some value for the temple to keep them.'

01/06/2016 10:28 | Updated 01 June 2016

WARNING: This article contains images that some readers may find upsetting.

Thai wildlife authorities found 40 tiger cub carcasses in a freezer in Thailand's infamous Tiger Temple on Wednesday as they removed live animals in response to international pressure over suspected trafficking and abuse.

The Buddhist temple in Kanchanaburi province west of Bangkok had become a tourist destination where visitors snapped selfies with bottle-fed cubs, Reuters reported. 

But the temple has been investigated for suspected links to wildlife trafficking and abuse. A raid that began on Monday is the latest move in a tug-of-war since 2001 to bring the tigers under state control.

Stringer . / Reuters
A dead tiger cub is held up by a Thai official after authorities found 40 tiger cub carcasses in a freezer during a raid at the Tiger Temple

The dead tiger cubs were found in a freezer in a kitchen area, said Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks.

"They must be of some value for the temple to keep them," he said.

"But for what is beyond me."

Monks at the temple were not immediately available for comment.

Officials have moved 52 live tigers from the temple since Monday, Adisorn said, leaving 85 still there.

Thailand has long been a hub for the illicit trafficking of wildlife and forest products, including ivory.

And exotic birds, mammals and reptiles, some of them endangered species, can often be found on sale in markets.

On Tuesday, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group said the temple was "hell for animals" and called on tourists to stop visiting animal attractions at home and abroad.

The raids follow the controversial shooting of a gorilla at a Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday. The critically-endangered animal was killed after a child fell into its enclosure. 

World Animal Protection said: "The cruelty towards tigers at the temple, and the latest scenes of dead cubs, is extremely disturbing.

"It's clear that the welfare of the tigers is not a priority and their lives are full of abuse and commercial exploitation for the entertainment of tourists."

The animal protection group commended authorities for taking action against the temple, but further urged the government to investigate how the cubs died, and to find an "appropriate safe environment" for the tigers it had already recused to spend the remainder of their lives. 

  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    A tiger looks one as a Thai DNP veterinarian officer assist it at the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Tiger Temple on June 1, 2016 in Thailand. Wildlife authorities raided a Buddhist temple in Kanchanaburi province where 137 tigers were kept, following accusations the monks were illegally breeding and trafficking endangered animals. Forty of the 137 tigers were rescued by Tuesday from the country's infamous 'Tiger Temple' despite opposition from the temple authorities
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers carry a sedated tiger outside its cage at the Tiger Temple
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers stand by caged tigers loaded onto a truck at the Tiger Temple
  • CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT via Getty Images
    Thai wildlife officials use a tunnel of cages to capture a tiger and remove it from an enclosure at the Tiger Temple
  • CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT via Getty Images
    Thai wildlife officials take a tiger away in a covered cage on a truck after they removed it from an enclosure at the Tiger Temple
  • CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT via Getty Images
    A Thai wildlife official speaks with a monk before officials removed tigers from enclosures
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP veterinarian officers tend to a sedated tiger at the Tiger Temple
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    A Thai DNP veterinarian officer assists a sedated tiger at the Tiger Temple 
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP veterinarian officers tend to a sedated tiger
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers carry a sedated tiger outside its cage at the Tiger Temple
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP veterinarian officers tend to a sedated tiger 
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers carry a sedated tiger at the Tiger Temple
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers load a sedated tiger onto a truck
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers carry a sedated tiger outside its cage at the Tiger Temple 
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP veterinarian officers tend to a sedated tiger at the Tiger Temple 
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    A tiger looks one as a Thai DNP veterinarian officer assist it at the Tiger Temple
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers load a sedated tiger onto a truck 
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers load a sedated tiger onto a truck 
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers observe the carcasses of 40 tiger cubs and a bear found undeclared at the Tiger Temple
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP veterinarian officers tend to a sedated tiger
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers observe the carcasses of 40 tiger cubs and a bear found undeclared at the Tiger Temple
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP veterinarian officers tend to a sedated tiger at the Tiger Temple 
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    A sedated tiger is ready to be carried away
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers load a sedated tiger onto a truck at the Tiger Temple
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers observe the carcasses of 40 tiger cubs and a bear
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Deputy DNP director-general Adisorn Nuchdamrong stands by the discovered carcasses
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    A tiger peers through the bars of its cage at the Tiger Temple
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    Thai DNP officers observe the carcasses of the discovered cubs 
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    A Thai DNP veterinarian officer holds the head of a sedated tiger
  • Dario Pignatelli via Getty Images
    The carcasses of 40 tiger cubs found undeclared at the Tiger Temple
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