In recent years, the poor welfare of captive tigers as part of Thailand’s tourism industry has been exposed in various reports.
This International Tiger Day we are releasing a report, ‘Unchaining Tiger Tourism,’ regarding this issue. Spanning two years from 2017 to 2018, the report details the conditions that many tigers live in, including everything from the tourist “selfie” venues through to standard no-interaction zoos.
What are the problems?
There were a number of outstanding issues noted within this research, most notably the fact that this is a fast growing industry. As well as making welfare assessments at each venue, our researchers observed and recorded the number of tigers in each facility. Staff numbers of tigers were reported with a total number of 1234 in 2017, rising to 1345 in 2018 demonstrating just how fast this industry is growing.
Welfare levels were generally low, with the main welfare concerns including tiger cubs removed from their mothers at a young age, aggressive forms of training to get tigers to comply, poor housing lacking adequate enrichment or natural environments, overcrowding, behavioural issues and more. In fact, out of 38 facilities, only seven proved to have anything resembling adequate tiger environments.
Interactions ranged from sitting behind a tiger for photos to bottle feeding tiger cubs
How to change this?
By educating tourists, we hope that opinions will change regarding the desire to see and touch tigers in these types of activities. By reducing the demand for these activities, we hope that venues will be forced to change their practices for the better, in order to remain in business. A push to reduce breeding in all these facilities would also go a long way in reducing tiger suffering.
Read our report here.