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A fascinating and controversial attraction in western Thailand has recently been creating a lot of buzz. Aussie travellers who enjoy thrills and like to venture to exotic places on their adventure travel excursions can visit the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, also known as the Tiger Temple. This unique centre allows visitors to interact and play with adult tigers, as the monks who live there have been trained to handle them properly and make the experience safe and unforgettable.
Since 1994, the monastery has been taking care of these large felines and allowing travellers to get up close and personal with the massive animals. Originally, the monks that chose to live on the newly donated land took in some wild peacocks and boar, realising that there was a great need to protect these creatures in the region. Later on, some felt that tigers were also in danger of being harmed, so the animals were welcomed to the temple to live and be cared for. In the beginning, tigers roamed freely about the property, but when the monks began to welcome foreigners, they had to manage the animals and ensure everyone remained safe in the presence of such large mammals.
A number of tigers are chained for parts of day, which has spurred controversy among animals rights activists. Although the felines are never harmed, some say they should be able to come and go as they please, especially because most were born in the wild and not in captivity. However, guests would be put at risk and may not be permitted to visit, because tigers are mostly friendly but unpredictable at times. Additionally, most of the tigers have mated and gave birth to several cubs while in captivity, which is against Thai law.
"Breeding tigers requires a government license under the Thai Wild Animals Reservation and Protection Act 1992," said a spokesperson from the Care for the Wild International orginisation in a statement. "The Temple does not have such a license but has, by its own records, bred at least 10 cubs from its original animals."
For now, Aussie travellers are still encouraged to visit the Tiger Temple and enjoy the company of the large cats as the monks work out the legalities of their interesting operation. Those interested in a journey to this region of Thailand can take flights to Bangkok and head west to the district of Saiyok.
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