A troubled Tiger Park in eastern Thailand has had its operating licence withdrawn and faces permanent closure after two of its cubs were shown to have not been born in captivity.
Mukda Tiger Park & Farm, also known as Mukda Suan Sua, was previously ordered to close temporarily in January after DNA tests proved that a pair of parenting tigers and four cubs proved that they had been smuggled and were not captive bred. The park has 46 tigers and cubs.
Last year wildlife officials found a severed tiger head as well as several other tiger carcasses and body parts in the park as part of the crackdown on illegal wildlife trafficking. In January 2018 DNP officials confiscated a number of locally protected species including red pandas and monkeys.
The two cubs in the latest find, Khao Mao and Khao Pluak, were shown through DNA testing not to be related to their reported parents and were thought to have also been smuggled.
Charges have been filed by the Thai Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) for smuggling and perjury which could result in jail terms up to 5 years for the owners.
The wildlife protection law in Thailand permits the DNP to withdraw a zoo’s business licence if it is ordered to temporarily shut twice within a 12 month period.
The DNP on Tuesday filed charges against the park operator for smuggling and perjury, as well as ordering the park to close for 30 days. A director of the Thai Wildlife Conservation Office expects the DNP to close the park permanently.
The DNP intends to run DNA checks on around 1,500 tigers and 39 tiger farms in Thailand in an attempt to halt the illegal trade in tigers. In 2016 the famed Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province was raided and more than 40 dead tiger cubs, tiger pelts and 1,500 tiger skin amulets were seized.
Animal Experiences in Thailand
Wildlife experiences continue to be very popular in Thailand and many “conservation” and “rescue” parks have been established, catering for tourists. The parks will generally offer experiences with animals, some even offering chances to interact with tiger cubs away from their mothers.
The parks continue to be controversial with many claims of illegal wildlife smuggling, inhumane conditions and drugging of animals to make them more compliant. Here at Flyingdog Travel we discourage the visiting of any parks or attractions that offer experiences or shows with wild animals.
Sources: Bangkok Post and Daily Mail