Why You Should Never Visit Tiger Kingdom in Thailand
When you arrive in Thailand and go to book any type of day tour (besides island hopping tours) you will see plenty of animal attractions that these companies advertise. They offer elephant trekking, a monkey show, a snake and crocodile show, and “get your photo with a tiger” at Tiger Kingdom. When you first see “get your photo with a tiger” you think wow that would be such an awesome experience, but the thought of what they must to do to the animal to get it to pose for a photo & not maul the tourist never runs through your head.
The Truth About Tiger Kingdom
Tiger Kingdom is listed in every single brochure you’ll pick up. They advertise all over their website and social media that these tigers are well taken care of and not drugged. Here’s quotes taken directly taken from their website…
“comfortable, caring, and safe environment for all of our big cats”
“our enclosures have always been built to meet or exceed the minimum standards”
When we arrived at Tiger Kingdom the first thing we noticed was that these huge tigers were kept in small enclosures with 3-4 other tigers. They had a little door that led to their outside space. Which you would think would have grass for them to lay on, trees for them to climb? Nope, these animals got cement patio blocks to walk and lay on, a small in ground pool. They did have trees but they were blocked off with an electric fence so the animal couldn’t go near it without being shocked. Tigers in the wild usually look for open grass fields, cover, and water, and here at Tiger Kingdom then clearly aren’t getting what they need.
“putting the tiger’s welfare first”
“The only time sedation is used is for annual health checks or medical emergencies. There are many reasons why we would never sedate the tigers”
These statements couldn’t be farther from the truth. When we walked around before our encounter ALL the tigers were passed out in the cages. I thought ok well maybe the ones we encounter will be active and playful like they say they are , That wasn’t the case at all. We got to see three tigers up close, and guess what? They were all passed out also, literally to the point that they looked dead. The keeper proceeded to poke the tiger with his bamboo stick and trying to force me to pull the tigers tail (I refused) I kept saying it was ok but he didn’t listen, he was adamant about waking this poor thing up. I asked the guy why they were all so tired, his response was “they’re nocturnal” which yes they are, but they were clearly drugged. Us petting them and the guy poking them didn’t even make the tiger budge. Look at the chart below. This was on their website and all of the tigers showed more behaviors or a sedated tiger then they did of a normally behaved one.
Ethical Ways to See/Interact With Animals
I couldn’t find any tiger place in Thailand that was ethical. Theres a place called Tiger Temple but from what I researched they’re just like Tiger Kingdom, if not worse. If you still wanna have an up close animal encounter, you can visit elephants at The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. They are the most ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand. They rescue all of their elephants from elephant trekking and elephants used for work.
If you wanna see more animals then just elephants, you can visit The Wildlife Friends Foundation. Their goal is “To rescue captive wild animals and rehabilitate them as far as is feasible, allowing them to live the rest of their lives in a safe environment, as close to nature as possible and providing them with the best care possible.” They have hundreds of animals you can visit for the day and feel good about doing it.
If you visited Tiger Kingdom or any place with wild animals and noticed they were not being treated humanely, Don’t beat yourself up about it. The only thing you can do is not visit these places anymore and to educate others about them, tell them not to go because of what you saw and how it made you feel.I Wish I would’ve done more research before I went to Tiger Kingdom, I thought it was going to be more like a sanctuary and it wasn’t, It was amazing being able to see these animals up close, but it also felt so wrong seeing them in an enclosed environment. It made me sick to my stomach and I left in tears.
When Traveling try to avoid the animal encounters that the tour companies offer you, they don’t care about animal welfare, they just care about the profit they make from selling you these encounters.