Group Writing: The Tragedy of the Tiger Temple

 

Over 20 years ago, my husband and I visited a temple in Thailand with a Thai friend of ours. She had become friendly with the head monk who, along with his monks, had taken in many tigers. These tigers had, for the most part, been picked up as cubs by people who were visiting the forests; when they recognized their foolish decisions to capture the tigers (since the cats grew to be substantially larger and more fierce), they took them to what came to be called the Tiger Temple. The head monk felt he could provide a place of safety and care for the tigers, and gradually housed many tigers around the temple.

Every day the monks would take the tigers for a walk. They had an incredible rapport with these wild animals, and could often be seen relaxing with them in the open land nearby. The cats were kept and fed in very large cages, with plenty of room to walk around. We realized that there was no long-term planning involved; food for the cats was provided by people who knew of the monks’ work, including locals and tourists. Visits by outsiders were infrequent, and the cats looked well-cared for. It appeared that the monks were just doing what they believed was needed; theirs was the compassionate action to take.

Unfortunately, some of those outsiders decided to capitalize on the situation. They persuaded the head monk that they could make the temple famous, a tourist attraction, and that they could be of great help in the care of the animals. Our Thai friend knew immediately that this would be a very bad idea, but in spite of her rapport with the head monk, she couldn’t convince him to decline the offer. Eventually the entire project became a disaster for everyone involved, including the monks and the tigers. The Temple was finally raided by the government, probably based on the outrage of the public; the tigers were removed and the tiger portion of the facility was shut down in 2016.

In February 2018, the facility was re-opened as a zoo by the Department of National Parks. A representative of the Department reports that the new facility will now be legal, “. . . because our department can control it directly.”

Somehow I don’t feel reassured.

I assume that PETA is not active in Thailand. But like anywhere else, the greedy have to make a buck at the expense of the monks and the tigers.

Here are some photos of our visit. Except for a couple of other people wandering around, we (with our friend) were the only visitors back then. The head monk was nice enough to meet with us privately. Even though the tiger was chained to a tree and the head monk stood close by to distract the tiger if he looked at me, it was still a stupid thing to do. Still . . .

 

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    @randyweivoda?

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    @randyweivoda?

    Huh?

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Huh?

    You haven’t heard about his father’s pet while he was growing up?

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Huh?

    You haven’t heard about his father’s pet while he was growing up?

    No! Hopefully he’ll get your notification and bring me up to speed.

    • #4
  5. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I love cats but I ain’t pettin’ no tiger!

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    I love cats but I ain’t pettin’ no tiger!

    Smart man! Anyway, their fur feels coarse, not soft like a kitty’s!

    • #6
  7. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Huh?

    You haven’t heard about his father’s pet while he was growing up?

    My dad bought a Siberian tiger from an exotic animal farm in Minnesota so he could use the tiger in TV ads.  Her name was Tesha and she could be friendly or fierce.  You did not want to approach her when she had food in front of her.  That growl would make every hair on your body stand on end.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    My dad bought a Siberian tiger from an exotic animal farm in Minnesota so he could use the tiger in TV ads. Her name was Tesha and she could be friendly or fierce. You did not want to approach her when she had food in front of her. That growl would make every hair on your body stand on end.

    Oh my gosh, she was gorgeous. You were crazier than I was. When the tiger I was with began to turn her head toward me, the head monk would gently push her head to look away. He had to do that two or three times. My husband loved it, but I was pretty scared. Just he pure size of them. Thank goodness it didn’t growl at me–I probably would have passed out! Thanks, @randyweivoda!

    So did you have her for a while, give her away. Curious minds want to know!

    • #8
  9. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    So jealous of you guys. I’ve always wanted to meet a tiger!

    • #9
  10. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    My dad bought a Siberian tiger from an exotic animal farm in Minnesota so he could use the tiger in TV ads. Her name was Tesha and she could be friendly or fierce. You did not want to approach her when she had food in front of her. That growl would make every hair on your body stand on end.

    Oh my gosh, she was gorgeous. You were crazier than I was. When the tiger I was with began to turn her head toward me, the head monk would gently push her head to look away. He had to do that two or three times. My husband loved it, but I was pretty scared. Just he pure size of them. Thank goodness it didn’t growl at me–I probably would have passed out! Thanks, @randyweivoda!

    So did you have her for a while, give her away. Curious minds want to know!

    He got her when she was fairly little and kept her until she was old and died.  Then he had her stuffed.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

     

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    My dad bought a Siberian tiger from an exotic animal farm in Minnesota so he could use the tiger in TV ads. Her name was Tesha and she could be friendly or fierce. You did not want to approach her when she had food in front of her. That growl would make every hair on your body stand on end.

    Oh my gosh, she was gorgeous. You were crazier than I was. When the tiger I was with began to turn her head toward me, the head monk would gently push her head to look away. He had to do that two or three times. My husband loved it, but I was pretty scared. Just he pure size of them. Thank goodness it didn’t growl at me–I probably would have passed out! Thanks, @randyweivoda!

    So did you have her for a while, give her away. Curious minds want to know!

    He got her when she was fairly little and kept her until she was old and died. Then he had her stuffed.

    Seriously? Wow, she musta been some tiger!

    • #11
  12. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Seriously? Wow, she musta been some tiger!

    That could probably be said about pretty much any tiger.

    • #12
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the August 2019 Group Writing Theme: Raining Cats and Dogs. Our September theme is “Autumn Colors.” There are plenty of dates available. Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #13
  14. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    My dad bought a Siberian tiger from an exotic animal farm in Minnesota so he could use the tiger in TV ads. Her name was Tesha and she could be friendly or fierce. You did not want to approach her when she had food in front of her. That growl would make every hair on your body stand on end.

    Oh my gosh, she was gorgeous. You were crazier than I was. When the tiger I was with began to turn her head toward me, the head monk would gently push her head to look away. He had to do that two or three times. My husband loved it, but I was pretty scared. Just he pure size of them. Thank goodness it didn’t growl at me–I probably would have passed out! Thanks!

    So did you have her for a while, give her away. Curious minds want to know!

    He got her when she was fairly little and kept her until she was old and died. Then he had her stuffed.

    You do realize you now are obligated to write a post about this tiger, or else to link to one you have already written.

    • #14
  15. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    My dad bought a Siberian tiger from an exotic animal farm in Minnesota so he could use the tiger in TV ads. Her name was Tesha and she could be friendly or fierce. You did not want to approach her when she had food in front of her. That growl would make every hair on your body stand on end.

    Oh my gosh, she was gorgeous. You were crazier than I was. When the tiger I was with began to turn her head toward me, the head monk would gently push her head to look away. He had to do that two or three times. My husband loved it, but I was pretty scared. Just he pure size of them. Thank goodness it didn’t growl at me–I probably would have passed out! Thanks!

    So did you have her for a while, give her away. Curious minds want to know!

    He got her when she was fairly little and kept her until she was old and died. Then he had her stuffed.

    You do realize you now are obligated to write a post about this tiger, or else to link to one you have already written.

    There’s not much more to say than I have already written here.  My dad generally did not live with my mom at this time, so I wasn’t around the tiger a whole lot.

    • #15
  16. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Seriously? Wow, she musta been some tiger!

    That could probably be said about pretty much any tiger.

    I don’t know. I probably wouldn’t say that about a boy tiger. Male cats are probably pretty touchy about being misgendered.

    • #16
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