After the elephant safari and bamboo rafting our tour included a visit to the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, or more commonly known as Tiger Temple! It is Buddhist temple in western Thailand that was founded in 1994 as a forest temple and sanctuary for wild animals, among them several tigers!
The wildlife rescue project was established in 1999 and its story is the stuff for fairy tales! That year a female Indochinise tiger cub that was orphaned by poachers was brought to the temple. Though frail and terrified, the animal was cured by the monks and recovered. Since then, as word spread, more people have brought orphaned and injured cubs to the temple’s doorstep. Those cubs went on to have their own cubs, so today there are more than 90 tigers living in the temple!
As every sensible person, we were curious about how the tigers could behave so calmly to the monks. A guide informed us that Buddhists, who believe in reincarnation, believe also that animals, like human beings, are sentient beings. “When the tiger angry, when you angry, it’s the same. When you hungry, when the tiger hungry, it’s the same. When you tired, when the tiger tired, it’s the same!” the Abbot Pra-Acharn Phusit explains.
To enter the temple we paid an admission fee of 600 Baht (around 15 euro) which goes to the funds of care for the animals. As guests, we could engage to a couple activities with the tigers. These include bottle feeding tiger cubs, exercising adolescent tigers, bathing tigers, hand-feeding tigers and posing with sleeping adult tigers (actually the last one was not very nice scene because they are numb but anyway)!
Visiting Tiger Temple was one of the most memorable things of our trip to Thailand! All of us were so excited to caress and play with the tiger cubs! It is something that you will have the opportunity to do once in your lifetime, so we enjoyed it as much as possible!!
p.s. Don’t wear bright coloured clothes (for example red) if you don’t want to increase the chance of the tigers to be aggressive!