Thailand’s Tiger Temple is in the news again. A tourist filmed a keeper at the temple punching a tiger in the face. As is the way with these things, the video has been viewed around 5 million times on Facebook in a matter of days.
A report has also just been released by Australian NGO Cee4Life, which claims the temple is involved in the trafficking of tigers and, as National Geographic reports this month: Cee4Life alleges that ‘tigers have been taken illegally to and from the temple since at least 2004.”
So will this latest round of bad publicity and accusations of animal cruelty make any difference? There were similar critical stories last year, such as when Beyonce and Jay-z visited. And there were articles just about every year previously. And while companies such as STA and Responsible Travel have been vocal as to why they now refuse to sell tours to the temple, it is still featured uncritically on the websites of companies such as Thomas Cook and Hayes and Jarvis.
Unfortunately, it is a lot more expensive to go on safari than visit a park. And you might spend days and hardly get a glimpse of a tiger, as opposed to a guaranteed snap of yourself cuddling a cub. Our need for instant gratification ensures that until the idea of taking a tiger selfie is seen as a badge of shame rather than a bucket list rite of passage, the likes of the Tiger Temple will continue to prosper.