My Experience at Tiger Kingdom in Thailand
Millions of people travel to Thailand every year. Known for it’s immaculate waters, beaches, infinite shimmering temples and their undeniably delicious Thai food, there is a part of Thai tourism that many people don’t discuss, the bad part. Although Thailand has so many positives there are a few negatives worth talking about before making your trip across the world. The negative includes their poor treatment of animals for human pleasure, i.e., elephant riding and visiting tigers. I am not an animal activist, however, I’ll admit I am an animal lover and after visiting Thailand and experiencing the treatment of some of their animals I can definitely say I am against it.
In the cities of Chiang Mai and Phuket, Thailand, the facility, Tiger Kingdom, operates as an attraction where people can interact with tigers of all ages, from babies to huge six hundred pound adult males. Before visiting Chiang Mai I had heard about the horror stories of how they drug the tigers and how inhumane the whole idea of it is. I did some research and one of my favorite travel bloggers had an article about how he thought it was ok to visit the tigers. His reasoning, because of the signs up “everywhere” around Tiger Kingdom stating “we do not use drugs on these tigers.” Being a travel blogger, I thought I’d check it out for myself and be the judge. Let me be the first to tell you, there are NO signs that say the tigers aren’t drugged. They are without a doubt drugged, very drugged. They are drugged for very obvious reasons…to prevent them from being conscious enough to rip your face off. They’re meat-eating carnivores and thats just what they do.
When we reached the facility I opted only to visit the baby tigers. I thought there’d be no harm in checking out the facilities for myself to share about my experience and also because of my thought process that the babies were probably harmless little guys; hence, no need for the drugs. I’m not calling Tiger Kingdom out on drugging the baby tigers too, although, I would say there is a great chance they were. Their eyes were extremely glossy and all fifteen of the baby tigers were asleep for a majority of the time I was in the cage. The worst part of it all is that they were already declawed at such a young age. When I suggested to the man working there “These babies are on drugs,” he laughed and said, “No, they’re nocturnal. They’re awake at night.” Highly unlikely considering my observations of the cats’ eyes and demeanor.
I personally didn’t go visit the large tigers, but my friend, Kiley, who I was traveling with, did. Her pictures and comments about the adults were enough to make both of us cringe. They had blue-ish purple spots ALL over their bodies. Kiley asked the “trainer” what the spots were? The “trainer” really being the man who just pokes them enough so they wake up for a few seconds to hold their eyes open for a couple pictures. He said they were antibiotics. A load of bologna! Later, when we were looking through her pictures of the big tigers, we noticed their teeth had been completely filed down.
Looking back on the whole experience, I feel stupid I even went. Obviously, these massive and majestic beasts were under the influence of some sedatives. There is no way these tigers would be trained to take pictures all day long without getting irritated. It was hard for me to reject going to play with baby tigers, that’s why I went. That’s why everyone goes. I was duped, and now I know. I now completely understand why people are against this practice and I am now a strong believer against it as well. These animals should not be kept in captivity for the pleasure of humans, plain and simple.