The true scale of Thailand's tiger selfie tourism

International animal charity exposes the suffering behind the trend

TORONTO, July 26, 2016 /CNW/ - In the wake of the scandal and closure of Thailand's Tiger Temple, World Animal Protection exposes the true scale of abuse endured by captive tigers at the hands of Thailand's tiger tourism industry, ahead of International Tiger Day (Friday July 29).

The report, "Tiger selfies exposed: a portrait of Thailand's tiger entertainment industry" is the first comprehensive study of the tiger entertainment industry in Thailand.

The global charity uncovered a fast expanding tiger tourism industry with a third more captive tigers (33%) in Thailand in the last five years. At time of the investigations in 2015 and early 2016, there were 830 tigers in captivity at entertainment venues, compared to 623 in 2010.

Tiger entertainment venues are increasingly popular attractions where tourists can get up close and personal for a 'once in a life-time' encounter with a wild tiger in captivity.

Besides a worrying trend in the growing numbers of tigers, the report also shows the intensity of the cruelty involved in making tigers submissive enough to entertain tourists. 

The main welfare concerns witnessed by the investigators at these tourist venues were:

  • Tiger cubs separated from their mothers, just two or three weeks after they are born
  • Young cubs being constantly mishandled by tourists, leading to stress and injury
  • Tigers being punished using pain and fear in order to stop aggressive or unwanted behaviour
  • One worker reported instances of a tiger being starved as punishment for a "mistake"
  • Most tigers were housed in small concrete cages with limited access to fresh water
  • One in ten (12%) of the tigers were observed pacing and biting their tales. These behaviours most commonly occur when animals cannot cope with stressful environments.

Of all of the seventeen major tiger entertainment venues investigated in Thailand, Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Pattaya had the highest number of tigers in captivity and had the poorest conditions.  At least one tiger was so thin the hips and ribs were visible.

Josey Kitson, Executive Director at World Animal Protection Canada says: "It is very worrying that there are 207 more tigers being abused for tourist entertainment than there were 5 years ago.

"We're asking tourists to think about the welfare of the tigers, and we're calling on the travel industry to stop promoting and profiting from tiger cruelty. If you can get up close, hug or have a selfie with a tiger it's cruel and don't go."

Kitson continues: "TripAdvisor, the largest travel site in the world, continues to promote and sell tickets to cruel tiger tourist venues. They could be a real part of the solution and help to end the suffering of tigers."

Find out more at

  • Moving footage and still images of welfare concerns in tiger venues is available
  • There are approximately 3,890 tigers left in the wild.

SOURCE World Animal Protection

Image with caption: "A captive tiger cub at Sriracha Tiger Zoo, Thailand. World Animal Protection believes that animals belong in the wild and should not be used for our entertainment. © World Animal Protection (CNW Group/World Animal Protection)". Image available at:

For further information: For an interview with a spokesperson, contact Beth Sharpe at or 1 416 369 0044


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