Abbot dreams of reopening his tiger zoo

Abbot dreams of reopening his tiger zoo

Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi (Photo by Piyarach Chongcharoen)
Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi (Photo by Piyarach Chongcharoen)

The abbot of the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province told reporters on Saturday that he already had a zoo licence and would seek a return of five disabled tigers so he could reopen the place to visitors again.

In his first interview with reporters after wildlife officials moved 147 tigers from his Tiger Temple, officially known as Wat Pa Luangta Bowa Yannasampanno, in Sai Yok district in late May, Phra Sutthi Sarathera or Luang Ta Chan said he intended to open a legal zoo as there were still a lot of other animals including boars, cows, water buffaloes and deer.

Hundreds of the animals survived thanks to donations from the public and foreign volunteers but no tourists had come after the relocation of tigers.

The abbot said that he was in the process of launching a legal zoo in the compound of his temple and in the meantime would let prosecution proceed in relation to the past operation suspected of involving tiger trafficking.

In addition of existing animals, he would seek more, including five disabled tigers seized earlier. The abbot said the temple had enough staff to take care of animals and he planned to breed animals legally.

Wildlife officials who conducted the relocation of the tigers at the temple from May 30 found the carcasses of 70 tiger cubs, two tiger pelts, a large number of talismans made from tiger carcasses, and plastic bottles with labels advertising their contents as supplements with "tiger power".

Three local monks and two laymen were charged with violating the Wildlife Protection and Conservation Act.

The temple has about 1,400 rai in tambon Sing of Sai Yok district but authorities found that about 930 rai was a reserved forest. Its zoo covered about 25 rai.

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