Scores of Thailand's rescued temple tigers die from disease

Some 86 tigers rescued from an infamous tiger temple in Thailand have died.

Officials say the animals suffered from a viral disease and weakened immune system as result of excessive inbreeding.

In 2016, nearly 150 tigers were taken into state custody from the temple amid global pressure over wildlife trafficking.

But it then became apparent that the tigers were susceptible to the canine distemper virus, according to officials at the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

More than half have now died, said veterinarian Pattarapol Maneeorn.


"Those tigers were inbreeding with each other which affect their health condition to be unhealthy."

The Buddhist temple just west of Bangkok was a well-known tourist destination and promoted itself as an animal sanctuary.

Visitors were allowed to get up close with the tigers and bottle-feed cubs.

The temple denied accusations by animal activists about animal abuse and suspected links to wildlife trafficking.

Some tourists said the tigers appeared "drugged".

They were taken to two state-run sanctuaries, but officials now say they could not escape the conditions from their previous home.