EDIT as of July, 2016: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36424091.
It really does break my heart and I am sorry I did this. If I had any idea back then, I would not have gone. I had tried doing research but apparently it wasn’t enough…
And to the person who pointed this out to me, thank you, despite the sarcastic asshole comment you made alongside it. Next time, try being nicer from that high horse of yours. You’ll have a higher chance of finding happiness that way.
Yep, this happened…
Here’s Shosh’s photoshoot:
A pause here to explain the Tiger Temple. Yes, it is a bit controversial. Why are the tigers all sleeping? And it’s always kinda sad to see a tiger not in its natural environment, right? I totally respect that.
Well, historically, it started in 1994 when the monks started taking care of injured and unwanted jungle animals in their monastery, from boars to deers to peacocks to buffalos, and eventually to an orphaned and injured tiger cub in ’99. Apparently, it was a time of mass tiger poaching in the area and within a year, villagers had brought in 8 more orphaned cubs to the monastery and they eventually ended up breeding and growing into what it is today. They built this larger, current location, purposefully open to accommodate their growth (and the ever-growing number of tourists, I’m sure). There were a few monks walking around the sanctuary still.
Now it runs more like a zoo and like all zoos, it goes through inspections on animal treatment and safety (albeit with obviously different regulations than in the States). After receiving suspicions on the tigers being drugged, they offered to hire outside people to come in and test the animals for drugs and they were found clean.
So why are they all asleep? Well, as you’ll soon be able to see, this set of tigers were all at the bottom of a canyon in the dead heat of the day. The photos mercifully hid the amount of sweat that we were pouring out while waiting and walking around petting these tigers. They claim the tigers to mostly nap during the heat of the day anyways, which is when they allow us to come and pet them. Because all of them were bred as cubs alongside humans, they are also said to be used to being handled by humans.
Take it for it is. All I can say is that it didn’t seem like a sad place at all. I loved it.
Other animals in the sanctuary:
Basically, I suppose it felt like one giant petting zoo. And I felt like one excited kid in it! =)