Posts Tagged With: religion

The Tiger Temple: a Disgrace to Buddha

*”Phayru was a very gracious Tiger. He would chuff and lovingly greet most people in spite of his obvious suffering. I watched this tiger try so hard to be exceptionally well behaved for the TSW, and just as I smiled with adoration at his behavior, the remorseless pain of shock and horror gripped my heart again as another violent scene began to play out before my eyes.
Phayru chuffed to the TSW and was doing everything that he was supposed to do when people are near. He showed no sign or display of aggression or negative behavior towards the TSW, just chuffs and obedience. Despite this good behavior, the TSW began yelling and raising his stick, Phayru backed off showing fear and confusion. This visual change of the expression on Phayru’s face was mortifying. The TSW hit Phayru’s genitals hard and yelled at him to move while pointing to a much smaller cell not much bigger then Phayru himself. As Phayru cowered and turned to the small cage I saw his genital and anus area was abnormal and swollen with excretions of blood and pus oozing from everywhere. He was moaning and trying to move quickly to the small cage while the TSW continued to hit him on his genitals. He continued to moan and flinched so much with every hit and was looking up at the TSW with such confusion and with what I can only describe as desperate pleading expression as if to say “Why”?……

The Buddhist religion has long been known for enlightenment and peace. The “live and let live” mentality, never killing or hurting another sentient being, the theme of reincarnation and karma is familiar.  Of course like most religions, there is contradiction.

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”-buddhism teaching

In Kanchanaburi, Thailand is the Buddhist temple better known as the “Tiger Temple”. Here the monks “bread and butter” comes from there supposedly peaceful relationship with the tigers. For twenty bucks, the  tourists can have their picture children on tigertaken next to a “tame” tiger. For a little extra, you can sit on the tiger’s back for the photo.

Are they “tame”? Of course not. They are chained up, and although not proven, suspicion is they are drugged. They are seemingly very sedate, low energy, and depressed. Even if drugs were not used, their care is questionable.

“Buddhism regards all living creatures as being endowed with the Buddha nature and the potential to become Buddhas. That’s why Buddhism teaches us to refrain from killing and to liberate creatures instead.”~ Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

The Temple claims to be there for the rehabilitation and repopulation of the species. To the temple’s critics, however, that population growth is a problem, chiefly because they say the temple is employing tactics which are illegal. A controversial report released in 2008 by Care for the Wild International (CWI) concluded:

Although the Tiger Temple may have begun as a rescue centre for tigers, it has become a breeding centre to produce and keep tigers solely for the tourists and therefore the Temple’s benefit. Illegal international trafficking helps to maintain the Temples’ captive tiger population. There is no possibility of the Temples’ breeding programme contributing to the conservation of the species in the wild..

The report also writes the tigers are at risk of malnourishment and are routinely handled too roughly by staff. The temple has denied wrongdoing or mistreatment of the animals.

“One is not a great one because one defeats or harms other living beings. One is so called because one refrains from defeating or harming other living beings.”-Buddha

chained tigerIt’s estimated that a century ago there were over 100,000 tigers in the world. Today the population has dwindled to between 3,000 and 3,500 – a decline of over 95 per cent. The Tiger trade is a lucrative business and the Temple is a part of it.

Be aware when you travel. Educate yourself, and if you are visiting an area where animals are present, question how they’re treated. Your tourist dollars could well be the difference between their benefit and detriment.

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For more information on Pharyu and the Temple Tigers please see:




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Ivory Honors God

Slaughtered elephant family

Slaughtered elephant family

A HUNDRED RAIDERS ON HORSEBACK CHARGED OUT OF CHAD INTO CAMEROON’S BOUBA NDJIDAH NATIONAL PARK, SLAUGHTERING HUNDREDS OF ELEPHANTS—entire families. Carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, they dispatched the elephants with a military precision. And then some stopped to pray to Allah. Seen from the ground, each of the bloated elephant carcasses is a monument to human greed.  From the air the scattered bodies present a senseless crime scene—you can see which animals fled, which mothers tried to protect their young, how one terrified herd of 50 went down together, the latest of the tens of thousands of elephants killed across Africa each year.  (National Geographic)

Elephant poaching is at a record high, unfortunately not a surprise. But what IS surprising is what is fueling this demand;  ivory to be carved for religious art pieces.  Crucifixes, amulets, prayer beads, buddhas-all made from elephant tusks.


Ivory crucifix

Roman catechism states “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.”In Vatican city, you can buy ivory crucifixes blessed by a priest. Want a baby Jesus or a patron saint? They’ve got those too. Last year Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman gave Pope Benedict XVI an ivory-and-gold thurible. In 2007 an ivory Santo Niño was given to Pope Benedict XVI.  For Christmas in 1987 President Ronald Reagan was presented with  an Ivory Madonna by Pope John Paul II.

The CITES treaty (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), was adopted as a way to globally safeguard our wildlife.  Conveniently, the Vatican has NOT signed the treaty, so it’s not subject to the Ivory ban.

In the Philippines, Ivory is synonymous with religion. The very word ivory also means a religious statue. The priests say smuggling elephant ivory is an act of devotion, part of ones sacrifice to the Santo Nino (holy child).

Worried about getting an item back to the US? They will gladly and openly give you advice how to smuggle it back into the US.  According to Monsignor Garcia in the Philippines “Wrap it in old, stinky underwear and pour ketchup on it”. “So it looks shitty with blood. This is how it is done.”

ele monk

Kruba Dharmamuni, the “Elephant Monk”, keeps Asian elephants at his temple in Thailand, where he’s been accused of starving an elephant to use her ivory for amulets. © Brent Stirton/National Geographic

This is not an issue specific to Catholicism. The Buddhist monks make thousands of dollars from amulets of ivory sold in temple gift shops. The elephant is revered in Buddhism, as in all of Thailand. To be respectful of the Buddha it is believed  one should use precious material; if not ivory then gold. But ivory is thought to be more precious.

Muslims use ivory for prayer beads,  Christians make Coptic crosses and other items. The Philippines, Thailand, China, and Egypt are all involved in the bloodshed.

The global religious market is the driving force behind the massive slaughter of the elephants. Blinded to the blood dripping off their crucifixes, the elephant continues to die in order to “honor God”.

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