Are they sedated tigers or are they just tired from the heat and humidity at the Tiger Temple in Thailand?
Pet a tiger. Check!
Receive backlash for petting a tiger. Check.
That’s what I get for not doing my homework before my visit to the Tiger Temple in Thailand. Before I got to the designated tiger petting area, I was distracted by the unfenced wildlife scattered throughout the temple area. Wild boars chased one other from tree to tree. Lazy oxes soaked themselves neck deep in muddy green water. And I think it was a yak that I saw in the middle of the dusty road.
When I finally arrived to the petting area, the small tigers were lively and playful. It never occurred to me that they were sedated. One was sitting in the shade observing us observing it. Another was playing with the trainer and seemed to enjoy putting on a show for the audience.
Everyone took turn taking pictures of the tigers and those brave enough had a chance to pet them. I was brave. I petted one. Then I Instagramed it. And then…backlash! Although they were only a few, it was still a little unexpected. My initial thought was, “Why are you trying to ruin a happy moment?”
I abstained from responding until I knew more. So later that day when I got back to my hotel, I Googled. And while there is truth to what the naysayers were saying, it’s hard to tell if the tigers I saw were actually drugged or if they were trained to behave. So I guess the best take away I can gather from this experience are these engravings: