Authorities have discovered the remains of 40 newborn tiger cubs in freezers at the controversial “Tiger Temple,” in Kanchanaburi Province, west of Bangkok. (video below)
An antler from a deer and the body of a binturong – a Southeast Asian bearcat – as well as a cow horn were also discovered.
The Wildlife Conservation Office (WCO) is investigating the motives behind the temple storing the bodies and is looking into the possibility that it is smuggling tiger parts, the organization’s director, Teunjai Noochdumrong told CNN.
The discovery of the cubs’ bodies is, she says, further evidence that the facility broke an agreement that they would inform the WCO if new cubs were born at the temple.
The organization believes the temple’s license to keep tigers should be revoked.
“We are determining if we will file a legal suit against the temple,” Noochdumrong said.
If they are found attempting to smuggle the tiger cub remains, temple officials could face up to four years in jail and or be fined up to $1,121 (THB40,000), she added.
The vice-president of the temple foundation, Suthipong Pakcharoong, did not immediately respond to phone calls from media outlets.
The operation to remove the tigers began on Monday. On Tuesday, authorities armed with tranquilizer guns were trying to capture dozens of tigers at the controversial Buddhist temple after staff allegedly set some free to delay the process.
As of Wednesday, the organization’s staff had caught 52 tigers. The temple housed a total of 137 tigers.
Noochdumrong described it as “mayhem” Tuesday.
“When our vet team arrived, there were tigers roaming around everywhere,” Noochdumrong said. “(It) looks like the temple intentionally let these tigers out, trying to obstruct our work.”
The temple has long been popular with tourists, who could walk among the tigers and pose for photos. The WCO said the temple’s tigers posed a danger to visitors and that they were being mistreated.
The temple also charged tourists to enter the compound and walk with the big cats, however Pakcharoong said the money was used to pay for the tigers’ care.
“We have to do that because that is how we earn the money and use that money to take care and raise our tigers,” said Pakcharoong
Watch the video below and SHARE this story with your friends & family.