BackSociety » Environment » 40 Dead Tiger Cubs Discovered in Tiger Temple Freezer

40 Dead Tiger Cubs Discovered in Tiger Temple Freezer

Last Wednesday, authorities made a grisly discovery while shutting down Thailand's controversial Tiger Temple, recovering 40 dead tiger cubs from an on-site freezer.

The carcasses were found by Thai wildlife rangers who came to relocate the temple's adult tigers following a government order to close the once-popular tourist attraction, reports the New York Times. The facility has been shuttered amid allegations of illegal wildlife trafficking.

Officials told the press that only one of the dead cubs had been reported to the government as required by law. Like many endangered species, tigers are often killed and their bodies used for various forms of traditional medicine in Thailand and across Southeast Asia.

Representatives of the temple, which is operated by monks, defended their actions, claiming they kept authorities in the loop and held onto the dead cubs as proof that they didn’t end up on the black market.

“We have declared all the deaths to the officials over years,” former police colonel Supitpong Pakdjarung, who runs the temple’s business operation, told the New York Times. “They’ve known about these carcasses for a long time.”

In the meantime, conservation officials will perform DNA tests on the cubs to see if there is a genetic link between the carcasses and the seized tigers. The circumstances of the cubs’ deaths remain unclear.

Of the center’s 137 adult tigers, 74 have been removed. Authorities plan to relocate the remaining 73 by Saturday.

The kicker, however, is what temple workers plan to do once the facility has been shut down: Tiger Temple's employees recently received approval to build and operate a zoo on a nearby site.

“Right now, we want everything to come to an end,” Pakdjarung told the Times. “Please hurry and remove all the tigers. Once the state tigers are all removed, we will proceed with the zoo.”

[Photo via New York Times]

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