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Tiger Temple - Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno

It was a very early pick up from our hotel at 4.30am, ith cushions and water provided by our driver for our comfort. We stopped off at the Bridge over the River Kwai en route to the Tiger Temple.


Established in 1994 Tiger Temple has gained a reputation as a wildlife sanctuary.To pay for the upkeep of the tigers (there are now 122) the temple was opened up to tourism. We did the VIP morning tour which started by giving food  to the Monks. We then went to the temple and whilst the Monks had their morning service we played and bottle fed tiger cubs, then we had breakfast with the Monks. Next we walked with the young tigers, gave them a bath, hand fed them with cooked chicken and then exercised the young tigers “unchained” in the small waterfall and playground area. We then walked individually with the large tigers down the canyon to have our photos taken with the tiger’s head in our lap. The final activity was watching the “unchained” tigers exercise and swim. It was awesome and a once in a lifetime experience.


It started with an injured jungle fowl given to the monk by the villagers.  Then peacocks came attracted by the calls of by then rather large colony of jungle fowl. An injured wild boar stumbled in to the monastery and the monks cared for him until he could be released back into the forest. The next day he came back followed by his family group of about 10 animals. Now countless wild boars find shelter in the monastery. Villagers also started to bring in unwanted pets: four species of deer moved in, followed by buffalo, cow, horses and wild goats. All these animals are roaming the grounds of the monastery freely.


The first tiger cub arrived in February 1999.  It was a female cub and her condition was very poor. When she was only a few months old, her mother was killed by poachers near the Thai – Burma border. The cub was sold to a wealthy Bangkok resident who ordered her stuffed.  A local was hired to do the job, and although he injected her in the neck with preservative formalin, the cub survived. When she arrived at the monastery she was frail and terrified of the slightest sound. Under the loving care of the monks the cub recovered but in July 1999 she fell seriously ill and died. People who knew about the incident did not want to see another cub mistreated again.


Just a few weeks after the first cub died, two tiny, few weeks old, healthy male cubs intercepted from the poachers were brought to the monastery. (A Thai poacher could get up to US $5,800 for killing a tiger - several years’ salary for a farmer). A few months later the local villagers presented another two male cubs. Soon after the border police patrol intercepted cubs held by poachers and contributed four female cubs.


The Abbot welcomed the animals and as he had no previous experience in looking after large carnivores he had to learn on the job. At first he build some concrete pens to house the growing cubs in order to prevent them from killing other temple’s animals.


As the years went by the tigers grew up and to Abbot’s surprise and delight started to reproduce. However, as the tiger family grew the Abbot became faced with the need to create more living space for his charges. As early as in 2003 the Abbot conceived an ambitious plan to create a large open air enclosure for each tiger. He sat the land aside and construction began.