This week it is the five year anniversary of the closure of Tiger Temple, Thailand. Back in June 2016, the Temple was raided and the 146 tigers were relocated to government facilities. At the time, it seemed that this was going to mark a change for tiger welfare in the country. But this was not to be.
Today, there are just as many, if not more, facilities breeding tigers and offering interactions with tourists. Even with the impact Covid-19 has had on the tourism industry, this demand does not appear to have been diminished. In fact, Thai tourists appear to have filled the gap left by international visitors.
Of course, this last year has seen a range of other problems arising. Despite domestic tourism filling in the gap, this is still a far cry from the revenue garnered by international tourists. Lack of income has resulted in a reduced workforce in many facilities which has had ramifications regarding tiger welfare, and indeed the welfare of other captive animals. In some instances, the reduced income has lead to more than one tiger facility closing its doors for good.
However, the tigers must be moved to another zoo or go to the government facilities. And herein lies the problem. With Thailand’s animal welfare law still rather vague, and no official zoo standards in place, ensuring the best welfare and living conditions for Thailand’s captive tigers is hard.
Over the years since the tigers were relocated, we have worked with the Department of National Parks (DNP) to provide improvements for the remaining tigers. This has included building six enclosures, building ponds, providing trees, carnivore supplement and more.
Sadly, due to Covid-19 and the ban on international travel, we have not been able to visit in over a year. We were also unable to continue providing further upgrades as the government facilities were not allowing outside workers to enter – effectively putting a stop to any further building work from us. However, with countries starting to open and Covid-19 slowly coming under control, we hope that this year we will be able to resume our work for the remaining 50 tigers from Tiger Temple.
Once again we at For Tigers, thank you for your continued support. We are continuing our mission to provide improved living conditions for the Temple tigers and other captive tigers within Thailand. Please stay with us on this continued journey.