Tiger Temple, or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, is a Theravada Buddhist temple in western Thailand that was founded in 1994 as a forest temple and sanctuary for wild animals, among them several tigers, mostly Indo-chinese Tigers. The temple is located in the Saiyok district of Thailand's Kanchanaburi province.
In 1999, the temple received the first tiger cub, one that had been found by villagers; it died soon after. Later, several tiger cubs were given to the temple, typically when the mothers had been killed by poachers, people whose "pet" tigers were getting too big, or those who had to when the laws about the keeping protected species became more strict. As of May 2012, the total number of tigers living at the temple has risen to over 100.
With an entrance fee, guests can engage in other activities with the tigers. These include bottle feeding tiger cubs, exercising adolescent tigers, bathing tigers, hand-feeding tigers and posing with sleeping adult tigers.
Care for the Wild International claimed that the temple operates as a tiger breeding facility without having a respective license as required under the Thai Wild Animals Reservation and Protection Act of 1992. Since the report by Care for the Wild International, a coalition of 39 prominent conservation groups, including the Humane Society International, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the World Wide Fund for Nature, have penned a letter to the Director General of National Parks in Thailand under the name 'The International Tiger Coalition' to urge the Director General to take action against the Tiger Temple over its import and export of 12 tigers with Laos, its lack of connection with accredited conservation breeding programmes, and to genetically test the tigers at the Tiger Temple in order to determine their pedigree and value to tiger conservation programmes. It concludes that the 'Temple does not have the facilities, the skills, the relationships with accredited zoos, or even the desire to manage its tigers in an appropriate fashion. Instead, it is motivated both in display of the tigers to tourists and in its illegal trading of tigers purely by profit.'