Earlier this week, a zoo keeper shot and killed a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, provoking outrage from animal rights' activists. Now, here's another thing for animal advocates to be angry about: A Buddhist temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand that serves as a popular tourist attraction has been caught subjecting its tigers to fatal conditions, according to BBC. During a raid Monday to investigate allegations of animal trafficking and abuse, Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation (DNP) officers found 40 cubs dead at Tiger Temple. A photo posted to Twitter by photojournalist Dario Pignatelli shows all the tigers, which were found in a freezer.
Footage shows people rescuing the living tigers and offering medical assistance. Wildlife officials will be filing criminal charges against the Temple, Police Colonel Bandith Meungsukhum told AFP news agency.
Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the DNP, told Reuters that the Temple must have been using the dead tigers' bodies for something, though he didn't know what. He said foreign volunteers showed the department officials the freezer.
Tiger Temple acknowledged in a Facebook post that 10 of its tigers were relocated to DNP facilities, though it said this was not due to animal cruelty.
The Temple also reposted a Facebook post from March responding to accusations of animal abuse that have been directed toward it for years, explaining that it freezes tiger cubs after they have already died. It also claimed that the reason so many cubs were found can be attributed to high a mortality rates for newborns.
"There have been a lot of recent posts about missing tiger cubs which accuse Tiger Temple of selling them to the black market. This is not true," they wrote in a lengthy Facebook post addressing the allegations. "The general mortality rate of captive newborn tiger cubs has by some researchers been documented to be as high as 40%; the Temple mortality rate is therefore comparatively low. However as happens in life, cubs do occasionally die for various reasons, most often when a new mother lacks the experience to properly care for them."
The Temple also addressed the reason that the dead cubs were being stored in freezers, writing, "In the past, as per Buddhist customs, these tiger cubs were cremated. In 2010, the ex-vet of Tiger Temple changed this policy. Instead of cremation, the deceased cubs were preserved in jars or kept frozen. We have documented all the deaths from 2010 and have photographic evidence of them still being within the Temple."
Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, Dario Pignatelli, and Tiger Temple did not immediately return Complex's request for comment.