Bangkok: Thai authorities on Wednesday discovered 40 dead tiger cubs in a controversial temple that uses the big cats to attract tourists.
The cubs, according to images released by online portal Khao Sod, appear to have died recently and were discovered by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation teams on Wednesday morning together with carcasses of other protected species.
The authorities on Tuesday conducted an operation to remove the 147 tigers from the premises of Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampann temple, better known as the Tiger Temple, located in Kanchanaburi province.
The temple management refused to cooperate with the authorities and as such the process is expected to take several days.
So far, the authorities have managed to rescue 40 tigers (seven on Monday and 33 on Tuesday), reported Khao Sod.
The temple, which opened with seven tigers in 2001, attracts tourists by promising them close interaction, including photos, with the animals; something that has met with severe criticism by animal rights organisations.
These organisations have claimed the tigers appear sedated when interacting with tourists and have accused the temple of being a facade to cover illegal animal trafficking.
Meanwhile, the recovered animal remains also include containers with intestines and other body parts which, if found to be recent, would further support the accusations of wildlife activists.
The temple management has consistently denied allegations of mistreatment and trafficking of the animals.
The rescued tigers, some of them autochthonous to Thailand, will be taken to different specialised centres in the country.