More than half of tigers rescued from a Buddhist temple in Thailand three years ago have died in government custody, officials announced, according to the BBC. Only 61 of the 147 tigers that were saved from the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua temple, a former tourist hotspot known as Tiger Temple, are still alive.
Officials with Thailand’s Department of National Parks said many of the felines, which were already weakened by the stress of relocation, died of a virus. Authorities also blamed genetic problems linked to inbreeding among the tigers.
Thai authorities said the main cause of the deaths were laryngeal paralysis, a respiratory condition that impacts breathing. Others fell ill with canine distemper, a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems in some animal groups. Many of the tigers died as a result.
Edwin Wiek, founder of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), told the BBC the tigers were being kept in cramped cages, facilitating the spread of disease. He added that canine distemper is curable, but with a limited budget it was hard to get access to treatment.
“To be very honest, who would be ready to take in so many tigers at once?” Wiek said. “The authorities should have asked for help from outside, but instead insisted on doing all work themselves.”
Tiger Temple was a popular money-earning tourist attraction in the province of Kanchanaburi, just west of Bangkok. It was criticized by animal rights activists because of allegations it was not properly set up to care for the animals and flouted regulations restricting their trade. Police raided it in 2016 and the tigers have been held at two government breeding stations in Ratchaburi ever since, the BBC reported.
Tiger parts found during the raid buoyed strong suspicions that the temple, run as an admission-charging zoo, engaged in unethical breeding and illegal trafficking of the endangered animals. The temple has been closed since 2016 and many of the legal cases are still ongoing.
- FDA places import alert on Mexican hand sanitizers over ‘toxic ingredients’ – see the list of sanitizers to avoid
- Winston-Salem police investigating after body found is identified as man missing since November
- Biggest snow of season still on track overnight for central NC
- Convenience vs. privacy: How apps like Facebook Messenger spy on users
- Anticipation of snow leads to schedule changes for central NC schools, colleges
For more stories like this that matter to you, click here to download the CBS 17 News app for free.
Watch live newscasts, get breaking news and sign up for push alerts – download now