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.... Tiger parts, while illegal to sell, are in high demand in Asia, particularly China, for use in traditional medicine....Here's a slide show of tigers at the Temple. Captions: "Tigers cooled off in a pool at the Tiger Temple, an attraction in western Thailand that officials promote as a place where animals coexist with humans in Buddhist harmony. Conservationists accuse the temple of abuse and exploitation." "A monk accompanied tourists and staff members on a walk with one of the tigers. About 15 monks live on the grounds and have little to do with the tigers beyond occasionally posing with them for tourists." "A staff member taking photos for tourists. A standard ticket, which costs about $17, entitles a visitor to walk a leashed tiger and pose with a chained tiger."
The wildlife agency has been trying for months to shut down the Tiger Temple’s zoo. The temple has promoted itself as a spiritual center where people and tigers lived in harmony, and it has charged tourists as much as $140 apiece for the chance to bathe, hand-feed and play with the tigers.
From an earlier article (last month):
“We built this temple to spread Buddhism,” said Supitpong Pakdjarung, a former police colonel who runs the temple’s business arm. “The tigers came by themselves.”...
The 15 or so monks who live on the grounds have little to do with the tigers beyond occasionally posing with them for tourists. But a Buddhist atmosphere is part of the pitch. The temple promotes itself as a place where tigers betray their wild nature to coexist with humans in Buddhist harmony.
“We can live together peacefully because of kindness,” Mr. Supitpong said....
The Buddhist imprimatur also makes the temple a powerful adversary in its legal battle with the government. In Thailand, the moral authority of monks rivals the secular authority of the law.
“They have the power to say right or wrong in terms of morality,” said Surapot Taweesak, a scholar in philosophy and religion at Suan Dusit Rajabhat University in Bangkok. “This makes people listen and not dare to argue or debate with monks for fear of being sinful.”