The Truth About Animal Sanctuaries in Asia

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The Truth About Animal Sanctuaries in Asia

I have read many articles lately where the truth has been exposed about the so-called ‘animal sanctuaries’ throughout Asia.  I say animal sanctuaries in quotations because that is not what they should be named and it is far from the truth.  I am getting so annoyed about seeing my Facebook feed flooded with photos of people posing next to an animal because they don’t know what is actually going on behind those walls.  Actually, not even walls, this is being done in front of our eyes.  

I am a true animal lover, I always have been, and I hate to see images of the most beautiful animals in the world being beaten, locked in confined cages and tortured so the tourists can have a ride, or just to simply touch this sacred animal. 

**This post may contain a graphic image/video or two

The truth about animal sanctuaries in Asia

A few months ago I watched a short programme on the tiger temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.  Turner Barr did a great video too which you can watch below.  At the temple you can get up, close and personal with the Tigers and get those amazing Facebook photos you can add to your album, however here is what you might not know.


What is an animal sanctuary?

  • The British wildlife charity, Care for the Wild International, exposed that they are being beaten with sticks and clubs, and are being forced to sit in the hot sunshine for hours on end, without any water may I add.  They would pull their tale, punch and beat them to perform tricks for the audience.
  • Most of the tigers are inbreed which leads to a whole bunch of deformities.  When there are too many tigers in the park the older ones are then sold to the black market and used for ‘medicine purposes’, because cubs are worth more for photos. Tigers shouldn’t be killed for the purpose of medicine, they should be able to enjoy their life fully and not just be breed for this stupid purpose.

An undercover Foxcroft employee found evidence about what is happening after they leave the tiger temple.  She shared in an interview this chilling nightmare…

“Let me paint you a picture – A beautiful gentle female tiger, named Darika, is unable to have cubs as she is in with a male tiger far too young to mate. She has been born slightly deformed in her feet and hips which make her limp, but she is such a stunning girl, and oh so gentle.

One night, her “keeper” walks to her cage, she greets him, he puts a lead on her and walks her outside. She trusts him and goes without a problem. She is then injected and she falls down onto a canvas unconscious. She is lifted onto the back of a truck and she is driven out of the Tiger Temple, never to be seen again. She is taken to Laos, to a Tiger farm, and there her life ends. Her body is carved up and used in the fake Chinese traditional medicines and she (her body parts) are sold into the black market. Her fur is sold.

She is gone.”

  • The cubs get ripped off their mothers and bottle fed by sightseers all day long.  They get fed so much that the cubs are constantly vomiting because tourists want that great photo opportunity.  They are lacking the natural milk they are supposed to get from their mothers to help them grow healthy and they are drinking far too much for their size.
  • The Tigers are chained so close it’s hard for them to stand up and walk about.  They are also fed boiled chicken which makes them looked drugged and sleepy.  Having a diet like this is not letting the muscles develop because they lack the nutrients they need to survive.  This also makes for good photo opportunities for the visitors because they can get up nice and close without the tigers flinching and being so alert.



  • All the money that supposedly goes back to the tiger temple is kept and used for the purpose of builder a bigger and better ‘temple’ but not for the tiger, for themselves and for tourists to look at.  Do you really want to be supporting constructing a building instead of your money going to actually help the tigers? They are still confined into small cages but now there will be a beautiful building to look at which has nothing to do with the animals, how does that work?  They make an estimated 1million+ a year with no evidence that this goes towards conserving the tigers.

This is not only happening at this tiger temple but hundreds of other sanctuaries around Asia.  From Elephant sanctuaries in Bali and Thailand to turtle conservation on the Gili Islands, we are surrounded by this animal abuse and violence.

Are animal sanctuaries good?  Are animal sanctuaries bad? Please make sure you do your research before putting money into a sanctuary.  They do not spend your hard earned cash on the helping animals but instead use it to help themselves. Travel wise and remember your entertainment could be a life of animals suffering!  I know that seeing exotic and beautiful animals is part of the exploring adventures while travelling but you should see them in their natural habitat and not in grungy cages.


If you want to know more about how to identify an actual conservation project from a prison sanctuary then read this page from Right Tourism website here.  Jeraldine did a great blog post on this topic as well!




This is something I very recently came across from my Sister and you can read more about why you shouldn’t even ride an elephant in South East Asia and should only visit elephant sanctuaries with no interaction (read more here). These websites are great if you would like to know places where you can go see animals that are being well treated and cared for and where you can actually make a difference:

I am passionate about animals being loved and cared for so helping animals is close to my heart.  A good tip is to check out Trip Advisor about what reviews people have put up on the sanctuary.  If there is just one bad one maybe you should review your choice.


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  • Reply
    August 31, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Wonderful article Anita, this info needs to be put out there for more people to know about. Thanks for sharing it ☺

  • Reply
    Neha Verma
    September 20, 2016 at 1:04 am

    Totally reciprocate your emotions Ankita. I am a core animal lover myself. Sometimes I feel pathetic about the condition of animals used for our bemusement. I have not been to any animal sanctuary as such but I have been to many palaces , parks and tourist destinations where often horses, elephants and camels are used to give ride to and entertain travelers. These poor animals are chained rest of the time and not even properly fed. My simple mantra is to avoid any such engagement which would encourage something like this

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