The Truth About Chiang Mai’s Tiger Kingdom

On April 11, 2014 by Oren and Cassie

We’ve heard all the complaints, we know about the controversy, and we’re aware of the allegations. But we couldn’t help but see for ourselves what the deal is with Chiang Mai’s Tiger Kindgom. We were both reporters in a previous lifetime, so we wanted to know the truth behind the Tiger Kingdom.

OUR EXPERIENCE AT TIGER KINGDOM

We have to admit that we had a great time at this tourist attraction. It cost us about $30 to see baby tigers, adolescent tigers, and adult tigers for 15 minutes each. For a few more bucks, we could’ve spent some time with the young adult tigers, but we opted to skip that one.

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This tiger loved Cassie almost as much as she loved this tiger.

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Tigers are most adorable when they’re small… much like kittens!

The tigers are absolutely beautiful in a way only powerful animals can be. Even the smallest tigers have enormous paws, and you can see the size and the strength they will grow into. These big cats aren’t soft and fuzzy like our tiny kittens back home. Their fur is rough and stiff. Even so, it’s super fun to pet these tigers and take pictures with them. Now for a healthy dose of reality…

THE CONTROVERSY AT TIGER KINGDOM

How do you get a massive, carnivorous wild animal to sit still while hordes of people poke, prod, pet and play with this furry beast? Simple – you drug him! At least that’s what the skeptics say, and it seems to make sense.

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You probably shouldn’t be able to do this to a tiger.

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You seem very sleepy for a carnivorous killing machine.

The Tiger Kingdom relies entirely on the calmness of the tigers to turn a profit. If even one of these animals attacked a visitor, this place would have some serious problems. For a park described as a tiger sanctuary, it certainly turns out an enormous profit. The Tiger Temple outside of Bangkok even drew the attention of Care for the Wild and ABC News, who came to different conclusions about the tigers. Sadly, the tigers are not as well trained as these cats.

THE TRUTH ABOUT TIGER KINGDOM

We didn’t see any evidence of drugging, nor did we expect to. If they’re going to drug the animals, they’re going to do it in the morning before tourists arrive when they feed the animals. They claim the animals live on a diet of cooked chicken, so they never really learn to hunt and never develop the instinct for attacking their prey. Just ask Siegfried and Roy how tame tigers can be. (Coincidentally, that tiger died a few weeks ago.) EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently, Siegfried and Roy pulled off some sort of magic trick and removed all the video of that tiger attack from the web. Lame.

Most complaints about the Tiger Kingdom focus on how lazy the animals are. They lay about all day, barely responding when people pet them or play with them. They don’t seem to be particularly energetic, which critics look at and conclude with absolute certainty that a lazy tiger is a drugged tiger.

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This tiger looks lazy.

They’re definitely lazy, but ask any owner of cats – these are not exactly an overly rambunctious group of mammals. They sleep 18-20 hours a day, and once they get fed in the morning, they have no reason to be lively. We saw a few tigers – both young and adult – get very energetic when the handlers pulled out toys to play with the tigers (kinda like using a laser pointer to play with our cats, but on a much bigger scale).

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This tiger does not look lazy.

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It’s a known fact that tigers look more vicious in monochrome.

We didn’t see anything that amounts to abuse. A few times, a handler would pull a young tiger by a paw or tail, but not with any real force. The handlers use small wooden sticks to discipline the smaller cats, whacking them on the nose or paw.

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That’s the stick they use to discipline young tigers.

They do say that any tiger that attacks a human needs to be put down because it can be a threat to other people and other tigers. That sounds like absolute bullshit. The only thing a tiger that attacks a person can harm is the profit margin of the Tiger Kingdom. If an animal here stops being useful, they find a way to get rid of it. One of the handlers told us that at 2 years old, the tigers are sent to zoos.

SHOULD YOU VISIT THE TIGER KINGDOM?

This is one you have to answer for yourself. If you’re overly sensitive to animal abuse or incredibly concerned about animal rights, this probably isn’t the place for you, unless you want to come to your own conclusions. If you’re looking for a good time in a place that’s very family friendly, then swing on by! Every guest house, hotel, and hostel in Chiang Mai will have advertisements for this place, so it’s not hard to get here.

Want to see more pictures of cute tigers? Click here.

-O.L.

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3 Responses to “The Truth About Chiang Mai’s Tiger Kingdom”

  • My husband & I visited Tiger Kingdom when we were in Chiang Mai for our honeymoon. I have to admit, I was a little nervous that the animals were not going to be treated well but once we were there we were both impressed by the quality that we did see.

    For all those that claim that the tigers are drugged, have you ever spent a day with a house cat? I have a cat & she sleeps most of the day, it’s just how the animals are.

    Check our our blog post about our experience at Tiger Kingdom:
    http://moneyleftfortravel.com/tiger-kingdom-chiang-mai-thailand/

    • There seems to be little doubt that the tigers are well fed. We have two cats, and once they’re fed, they sleep the rest of the day, so you make a salient point!

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