The Thai wildlife authorities found 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer at the Tiger Temple, a controversial tourist attraction in western Thailand. Authorities are investigating whether the carcasses were evidence of the temple’s involvement in the illegal wildlife trade.
The discovery came as Thai wildlife rangers were removing adult tigers from the temple in an effort to shut down the attraction after receiving complaints that the temple was trafficking in endangered species.
The temple, a Buddhist monastery that offered paying tourists close contact with tigers, has long been accused by conservationists and animal rights activists of exploiting and abusing the animals, accusations the temple has denied.
Raid that began on May 30 is the latest move in a tug-of-war since 2001 to bring the tigers under Thai government’s control. Officials have moved 52 live tigers from the temple since May 30 but 85 still remain. Thailand has long been a hub for illicit trafficking of wildlife and forest products, including ivory, exotic birds, mammals and reptiles.