Thai authorities seized at least three tigers from a Buddhist temple in Thailand on Monday amid allegations of wildlife trafficking and animal abuse.
Wildlife authorities say they will continue their weeklong operation to relocate dozens of tigers from the temple in Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok, CNN reports.
Tiger Temple, or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua as it’s officially known, is a Buddhist monastery founded in 1994. The temple sells itself as an animal sanctuary housing 137 tigers and has become a popular tourist attraction, offering visitors the chance to pose for photos with tigers or play with cubs.
But the temple has long been under the scrutiny of local authorities and animal-welfare activists, who have accused the temple of animal abuse, trafficking and illegal breeding, as well as raising concerns the tigers pose a threat to visitors reports the Guardian. Some visitors have also claimed the tigers look drugged.
Tiger Temple has denied these allegations. “There is nothing illegal and dangerous at all,” Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Temple Foundation vice president Suthipong Pakcharoong told CNN. “If they do like this, it would affect the tourism industry.”
More than 1,000 personnel are taking part in the mission to relocate the tigers to nearby animal refuges.