Hugh Paxton’s Blog visited the Tiger Temple once and immediately felt something was not quite right. It was the entrance. Queues. Busy cash register, OK fair enough. Tigers must eat. And if in captivity must be fed. It was the news letters. Any NGO owes its members and financial contributors a newsletter. Not monthly perhaps. If an organization spends more time on issuing newsletters than actually making news it’s OXFAM. But one a year is a bare minimum. The office had a few. Sort of chucked carelessly on a shelf and they were crumpled, stained with cockroach excrement and three years old. Slovenly display. Written by somebody who cared about tigers. When released, fresh and healthy. Inspiring, I’m sure. But when I saw the filthy things I smelled the reek of decay, disinterest and I thought this place is either too busy to organize itself or is rotten.
I met a few volunteers. Mostly Australian, a few gormless Brit gap years with fresh, awkward, I want my mummy to send me money because I lost it in a brothel faces.
The whole bunch of Tiger Temple volunteers looked as if they’d just married the wrong person. And were trying to convince themselves they hadn’t.
And that everything was going to be OK. I felt sorry for them.
“If they weren’t here, there’d be nowhere for them to go,” explained one really nice guy lying to himself, to his fellow volunteers and to me. None of us were convinced.
But they’d volunteered and if you turned up with youthful enthusiasm at Belsen Buchenwald enticed by the opportunity to play music and then began to suspect you were playing in the band to obscure the sound of gunshots I think you’d postpone thinking about what might really be going on. Partially because you wouldn’t want to admit to everybody you were involved in something bad. And also because your motivations were pure and you can’t quite believe what’s happening. And hope it isn’t.
I met a few of the Temple Tiger monks. I knew exactly what was happening. Organised crime. Highly sophisticated in some respects. Assembling all these tigers. Constructing the place. Exploiting the media to promote it as a haven for endangered species. Utterly fucking arrogant and stupid in others. My first monk had tats, looked like trouble, was smoking and had a tiger on a chain. He knew I wasn’t a volunteer or a tourist. I knew he was a gangster.
OK, I thought. One gangster. Probably flying high on ya ice. With a tiger. This could go badly wrong.
In my experience it often helps to look and behave like a moron. It comes naturally.
“Whoee! Cuddly wuddly, tiger!”
The monk relaxed, ignored his instincts, dismissed me. So I didn’t get my throat slit. And he didn’t get a head butt to the nose and we then didn’t both get into a screaming yelling battle with a tiger. We sat watching tourists and shared a cigarette. There was something about this monk that really impressed me. He was a complete bastard. I don’t think I impressed him.
So that went fairly well.
I couldn’t find a temple.
Lots of tigers. You could stroke them. Get photos taken with them. My daughter did.
You’d think they’d actually build a temple!
They seem quite good at fridges!
From: Brigitte Alpers [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2016 5:28 PM
To: Hugh Paxton; Andre Gast
Subject: FW: Days old tiger cubs dead and frozen
40 dead tiger cubs lay side by side thawing