Tiger defenders sued

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2010:


BANGKOK–Wildlife Friends founder Edwin Wiek and
representatives of the Bangkok Post on February 3, 2010 entered
their responses to a defamation case filed against them by the Wat Pa
Luangta Bua Yannasampanno Forest Monastery, better known as the
Tiger Temple.
According to Tiger Temple publicity, the facility “started
in 1999,” with “a sick baby tiger, orphaned by poachers,” and
expanded to house other tiger orphans.”
Under Buddhist influence, the tigers “even sit for the
meditating sessions with the monks,” and also are extensively
handled by thousands of paying visitors.

The British wildlife charity Care for the Wild International
contends that investigations it did of the Tiger Temple in 2005-2008
“revealed evidence of tigers being regularly beaten, having urine
sprayed into their faces, being forced to sit in direct sunshine for
hours on end, and being kept in poor conditions with inadequate
Care for the Wild “also uncovered evidence of illegal trade
and breeding of tigers at the temple,” according to the Care for the
Wild web site. “Tigers are reported to be extremely lethargic during
photo sessions,” the web site adds, “leading to concerns they may
be drugged.”
The actual origin of the temple tigers is unclear, Care for
the Wild found, but because they appear to be hybrids of Southeast
Asian and Siberian subspecies, Care for the Wild believes they were
The Thai Department of National Parks, Plants and Wildlife
in 2002 declared that the temple was operating illegally, but
allowed it to remain open because there was nowhere else for the
tigers to go, according to Care for the Wild.
Wiek and the Bangkok Post were sued for reporting about the
Care for the Wild findings.
Wiek has coped with legal threats before. In 2004, after
Wiek exposed the possession of more than 70 smuggled orangutans by
the Safari World zoo, Wildlife Friends was repeatedly raided and
Wiek himself was briefly jailed. Eventually Wiek was fined $525 and
given an eight-month suspended jail sentence for possessing 11 former
pet macaques who had been given to the Thai Animal Guardians
Association by their keepers, and were relocated to better housing
at Wildlife Friends after the Thai forestry department declined to
take them.

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