40 dead tiger cubs found in Thai Buddhist temple freezer
Published 01/06/2016 | 11:06
Forty dead tiger cubs have been found in a freezer at a Buddhist temple that operated as an admission-charging zoo in Thailand.
The discovery happened while authorities were removing tigers from the Tiger Temple in Saiyok district in western Kanchanaburi province following accusations that monks were involved in illegal breeding and trafficking of the animals.
Anusorn Noochdumrong, an official from the Department of National Parks who has been overseeing the transfer of the temple's 137 tigers to shelters, said the cubs were found in a freezer where the temple staff kept food.
The temple's Facebook page said in March that its former vet had decided to stop cremating cubs that died soon after birth.
The temple, a popular tourist attraction, has been criticised by animal rights activists because of allegations it is not properly set up to care for the animals and flouted regulations restricting the trade of tigers.
The monks resisted previous efforts to take away the tigers, but relented this week after police obtained a court order.
The temple recently made arrangements to operate as a zoo, but the plan fell through when the government determined that the operators failed to secure sufficient resources.
Mr Noochdumrong said: "We don't know why the temple decided to keep these cubs in the freezer. We will collect these carcasses for DNA analysis."
He said the cubs appeared to be up to a week old and added that authorities plan to file charges against the temple for illegally possessing endangered species.