temple tigers at Khao Prathapchang center

Fighting the Death for temple tigers

Veterinarians are racing against time to save tigers siezed from Tiger Temple as criticism grows against thier department, DNP.

B4 looks OK, but it’s actually critically sick.

The mature Siberian tiger labelled as B4 has been placed under special care after it has critically shown symptoms of inbreeding-related laryngeal paralysis. Veterinarians have been providing it with medicines and enrichment in an attempt to boost its immunity against the disease. If still failed, they would consider conducting an operation for laryngeal paralysis as a last ditch to save its life.

B4 is among some few tigers out of 31 left at Khao Prathap Chang Wildlife Breeding Center under the National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation Department (DNP), which has developed a critical condition in relation to inbreeding-related laryngeal paralysis, in complication of canine distemper virus.

The rest of the tigers also have reportedly developed mild to moderate sympthoms of the same disease, leading to a blame on the DNP, which conducted a flashlight operation of tiger confiscation at the famed Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province a few years ago that resulted in 147 Siberian tigers at the temple transfered to the center and nearby Khao Son, but then having fallen into a massive death.

Out of 85 siezed tigers placed under care at the center, 54 so far have been pronounced dead. At Khao Son, the situation is not much different; 32, out of 62, have also reportedly fallen.

dead temple tigers carcasses
To couter the rising critism against it, especially on the disapparance of the dead tigers’ carcasses and valuable parts, the DNP on Friday put a carcass of one dead Siberian tiger on display.

The DNP said the dead tigers’ carcasses have been stuffed with formalin in a plastic tank, pending for approval for carcass disposal. Some tanks have already been buried because formalin in the tanks is drying up, releasing strong odour of the dead bodies to the air_and possibly, various diseases. (Photo: Sayan Chuenudomsavad)
dead temple tigers carcasses
The displayed carcass has shown that its valuable parts including skin, bones, and teeth are still attached to the dead body. (Photo: Sayan Chuenudomsavad)
dead temple tigers carcasses
Veterinarians were called in to help in the display event. They carefully poured out formalin in a tank before dragging the dead tiger’s body out. As some tigers were larger than the tanks, they were cut into parts after the autopsies were performed. (Photo: Sayan Chuenudomsavad)
dead temple tigers carcasses
A sign was placed in front of a yard where the formalin stuffed body was on display. Participants were also requested to wear a mask to ensure their safety. (Photo: Sayan Chuenudomsavad)
Khao Prathapchang center
Khao Prathapchang center’s chief Banpot Maleehuan insisted the center has provided the tigers with care at its best and followed the standard.

Each tiger has been provided with around 40 sq m cage, with zones set inside, plus a yard to help reduce stress. Everyday, it would be fed with fresh chickens from certified factories. Medical check-ups are also provided regularly.

However, nearly half of the confiscated tigers, around 40, had developed the sympthoms in the first place when they were recieved at the center. (The center first recieved the first 5 tigers in January, 2016 and another 5 the next month before a big lot of the siezed tigers were sent to it and nearby Khao Son in June of the same year.

But in May, the first few siezed tigers started to have fallen from the inbreeding-related laryngeal paralysis before the canine distemper virus was detected, according to Banpot.

Banpot said he would not point the finger to any one or where the diseases were from, but would try to take care of the animals at his best and said his staff have done their best to take care of these animals too.

“I personally believe that those who raise animals love animals and would not hurt or leave them. We too have done our best, and also because it’s our duty,” said Banpot. (Photo: Sayan Chuenudomsavad)
temple tigers at Khao Prathapchang center
At present, the center has been instructed to improve the tigers’ living condition as much as possible especially in a bid to deal with stress that is believed to be a prime cause of inbreeding-related laryngeal paralysis. More space would be provided while temperature would be put under control and monitoring. (Photo: Sayan Chuenudomsavad)
Medical treatment at Khao Prathapchang center
For medical treatment for those sick, veterinarians at the department have classified the remaining tigers in groups; mild, moderate, and critical patients. Those with mild and moderate sympthoms are provided with medicines and enrichment in an attempt to boost its immunity against the disease.

For those with a critical condition, they would recieve an operation for laryngeal paralysis as a last ditch to save its life.

So far, the numbers of tiger mebers in each group are not stable, depending on their recovery from the illness, the veterinarians said. (Photo: Sayan Chuenudomsavad)
temple tigers at Khao Prathapchang center
This is B2, another mature Siberian tiger, which has been placed under special care after it has also shown symptoms of inbreeding-related laryngeal paralysis.

Veterinarians have been providing it with medicines and enrichment in an attempt to boost its immunity against the disease.

The fact is the disease is incurable. Niether the canine distemper virus. (Photo: Sayan Chuenudomsavad)
temple tigers at Khao Prathapchang center
B2 looks slightly stressful in a cage and the veterinarians have requested undisturbed environment as much as possible.

So far, vaccination against canine distemper virus is also considered as a new hope as the veterinarians beleive it links to the laryngeal paralysis. By blocking it in time, the tigers would stand more chance.

But vaccination is tricky because this is the first time that the virus has been detected in tigers and there are no direct vaccines to it, according to the veterinarians.

In addition, vaccination could increase a chance for the virus and several others to be undercovered, thus posing threat of virus outbreaks in other wild animals at the center.

This is critical because these animals could one day be released to the wild and carry the virus and others along, triggering the outbreaks in the wild, they fear.

So, the fates of B2, B4, and the rest are now hanging in a balance.

“I cannot say whether or not they will stand a chance to survive, but as I said, I and my staff would try our best,” said Chief Banpot. (Photo: Sayan Chuenudomsavad)