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Dead tiger cubs found in Thai temple

June 1, 2016

Thai wildlife officials have removed the cubs' carcasses, along with dozens of live tigers. The raid comes amid growing outrage over the treatment of animals inside Thailand's buddhist community.

40 dead tiger cubs found
Image: Getty Images/D. Pignatelli

The 40 dead cubs were discovered packed in a freezer in the so-called "Tiger Temple" west of Bangkok on Wednesday.

Spurred by allegations of animal trafficking, the country's wildlife authorities on Monday launched a raid on the Buddhist temple, which is known for allowing tourists to snap photos of themselves with tigers.

Adisorn Nuchdamrong, the deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks, wouldn't speculate on why the temple had kept the tiger carcasses stored there. "They must be of some value for the temple to keep them," Nuchdamrong said. "But for what is beyond me."

Live tigers also taken

Animal rights organizations have accused the temple of making a profit through the illegal sale of animal parts, which are often used in traditional Chinese medicine. The temple said that many of the young tigers had died at birth, and that their parts had been preserved in lieu of cremation.

Officials have wanted to shut the whole temple down, but the situation is complicated by the fact that the government is reluctant to intervene in the country's religious affairs.

In addition to the 40 dead cubs, at least 30 live tigers were also found, tranquilized and put in government custody. Activists also say that temple operators had been able to keep the tigers docile through the use of drugs and physical abuse.

As many as 85 live tigers remain at the temple, all are set to be transferred to animal sanctuaries.

blc/msh (AFP, Reuters)