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Tiger cub bodies found in freezer
01:35 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

The remains of 40 tiger cubs have been discovered in freezers at 'Tiger Temple' compound

Wildlife officials moved in after complaints from tourists and concerns for their welfare

Bangkok CNN  — 

Authorities have discovered the remains of 40 newborn tiger cubs in freezers at the controversial “Tiger Temple,” in Kanchanaburi Province, west of Bangkok.

An antler from a deer and the body of a binturong – a Southeast Asian bearcat – as well as a cow horn were also discovered.

The Wildlife Conservation Office (WCO) is investigating the motives behind the temple storing the bodies and is looking into the possibility that it is smuggling tiger parts, the organization’s director, Teunjai Noochdumrong told CNN.

The discovery of the cubs’ bodies is, she says, further evidence that the facility broke an agreement that they would inform the WCO if new cubs were born at the temple.

The organization believes the temple’s license to keep tigers should be revoked.

“We are determining if we will file a legal suit against the temple,” Noochdumrong said.

If they are found attempting to smuggle the tiger cub remains, temple officials could face up to four years in jail and or be fined up to $1,121 (THB40,000), she added.

The vice-president of the temple foundation, Suthipong Pakcharoong, did not immediately respond to phone calls from CNN.

Tiger-catching ‘mayhem’

The operation to remove the tigers began on Monday. On Tuesday, authorities armed with tranquilizer guns were trying to capture dozens of tigers at the controversial Buddhist temple after staff allegedly set some free to delay the process.

As of Wednesday, the organization’s staff had caught 52 tigers. The temple housed a total of 137 tigers.

Noochdumrong described it as “mayhem” Tuesday.

“When our vet team arrived, there were tigers roaming around everywhere,” Noochdumrong said. “(It) looks like the temple intentionally let these tiger