Yet another year has passed since the Tiger Temple was closed down and the last tiger was removed, and still not much changes in Thailand when it comes to captive animal welfare. There are still more tiger petting facilities springing up, and an ever-growing number of tigers being born into captivity – it doesn’t look like slowing any time soon.
For the Tiger Temple tigers, life at the facilities run by the Department of National Parks (DNP) is still rather the same as it was two years ago. There are now six enclosures up and running enabling the lucky eight tigers who are in the adjacent cages access to these areas. These tigers do look happier and healthier. However, the majority of the tigers are still in their small cages.
As an organisation we are continuing to raise money, bring donations and push for improvements, but it is hard. As the tigers fade from memory, we get fewer and fewer donations towards the cause. There are also fewer tigers now too, many have succumbed to sickness despite the best efforts of the DNP.
Despite this, we are determined to keep providing for these tigers as much as we can. We visit throughout the year bringing chicken and pork donations as well as a carnivore supplement. This supplement has been so successful that the vets are now trying to fit it into the budget of the facility so hopefully this means we can focus our donations on other areas from now on.
Due to the design and setup of the facilities, we’ve come to a bit of a standstill on where to build new enclosures. Really, at this time, to provide new outdoor areas we’d have to build an entire new block of cages and enclosures, something that will cost a lot!
In order to help as many tigers as possible we have decided to improve the cages of twenty of the tigers. As we mentioned in a previous update, these cages are concrete floored, containing only a small bath tub and a concrete platform. We will provide materials (and fund the labour) to build higher wooden-topped platforms and a sand pit area so that these tigers can interact with different substrates.
It may not sound like much, but as this is their home 24/7 even these little changes to the environment and the utilisation of the 3D space can make a huge difference. Higher platforms mean the tigers have to jump, using their muscles to do so thus promoting some much-needed exercise. The sand pits will provide some natural substrate – a welcome relief from the smooth unyielding concrete floor they’ve lived on these past three years.
It’s not perfect. Let’s be honest, nothing will be. But the battle for improved welfare continues on. Stick with us, don’t forget them and let’s keep following the story of these tigers together.