Expedia offers two Thailand itineraries that include visiting Tiger Temple, a popular tourist attraction where guests pay to interact with live, adult tigers and their cubs. The tours, listed on Expedia’s website as “Tiger Temple Visit and War Memorial Private Tour”, and “Floating Market, River Kwai Bridge, and Tiger Temple Tour” describe Tiger Temple as:
“a Buddhist monastery that has dedicated itself to providing sanctuary to all wildlife, and is committed to preserving the endangered tiger. Man and beast live here harmoniously. From its humble beginnings in 1994, the monastery has become a haven for the protection and rehabilitation of all animals.”
While this description of the temple sounds nice, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. A recent investigation by an international conservation NGO, Care For The Wild International, shows that Tiger Temple is not a sanctuary, and, despite payments being deceptively labeled as “donations”, none of the profits generated by tourism go to tiger conservation, or to improve the caretaking of the temple’s tigers. The temple does not rescue or rehabilitate animals – in fact, they have been cited for illegal trafficking of tigers across the Thailand border, a practice that is only helping to decimate the few remaining populations of wild tigers.