Thursday, 9 June 2016

Tiger Temple investigators find suspected slaughterhouse

Four live tigers and 12 empty cages found during police raid at house 30 miles from temple in western Thailand

Associated Press in Bangkok
Tuesday 7 June 201612.23 BST Last modified on Tuesday 7 June 201622.00 BST

Thai police have found what they believe is a slaughterhouse and tiger-holding facility used in a suspected animal trafficking network.

Acting on a tip, officers raided a home about 30 miles from the Tiger Temple, a popular tourist attraction that allows visitors to pose for photos with the tigers and take them for walks.

Investigators believe the house, in an isolated area and surrounded by tall fences, served as a holding facility and slaughterhouse, said police colonel Montri Pancharoen, deputy commander of the crime suppression division, which oversaw the raid.

“We believe it was used by the Tiger Temple to hold live tigers before slaughtering them for their skins, meat and bones to be exported outside the country, or sent to restaurants in Thailand that serve tiger meat to tour groups,” he said.

The house had a work area with a large chopping board and a variety of knives, which authorities believe served as the slaughter area.

Police detained two caretakers at the facility, who claimed the tigers were the private property of the home’s owner, said Montri. Police are searching for the owner.

“The Tiger Temple is just a starting point, or a supplier,” he said. “We have information that the Tiger Temple is not the only place that supplies tigers to illegal smugglers.”

Last week authorities removed more than 137 tigers from the temple grounds and found 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer and 20 more preserved in jars.

Animal rights activists have long accused the temple of mistreating its tigers. The government suspects its monks have been involved in illegal breeding and trafficking of the animals.

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