All people fight for what they believe in – whether it be religion, politics, human welfare, animal welfare, the environment, science or even a simple argument. Now this can be broken down into thousands of categories – all with an underling goal: To make right in what they believe in. Within these categories there’s always one particular subject they are truly passionate about and make their voices heard. Although we want to change everything, we realize we can’t change it all – we can’t change the world, but we can make a difference. Start small, learn, educate and grow from there.
My fight has always been about animal welfare. But the hundreds of categories that fall into this is overwhelming. I have to choose my battle. Although I dabble in quiet a few animal welfare subjects, my current fight is for Tigers. Even this can be broken down into numerous categories: population, habitat loss, poaching for cultural medicinal purposes, fur and other trading needs. Then it goes into the various captivity sections - Tigers in breeding farms, zoo’s, circus’s, film industry, as pets, sanctuaries and rescued or confiscated (some sanctuaries are not created from the latter and breed, trade or buy to gain more profits)
I have chosen my voice to be heard about 2 topics, which are both connected – Tigers in zoos and Tigers that have been confiscated or as many believe ‘rescued’. All of which I speak of applies to all animals in captivity. I have specifically chosen Tigers due to my experience.
My passion began at the infamous Tiger Temple which I was led to believe was a sanctuary…I began to realize it was far from. My first years there I was told of all the wonderful plans to build a wall surrounded by hundreds of acres for the tigers to roam freely in a protected area. This was to be funded by the few tigers that had to be sacrificed for photos and other programs for tourists. When I began to see the money going elsewhere, I knew it was all lies. But it was too late to leave. Not only did I grow a bond with them, but all the progress we had made as foreign volunteers making the tigers lives better while captive – if we left or spoke out..what would be the fate of them?
In 2016 thousands of protesters got their wish. The Tigers were confiscated and the Temple was shut down. 149 tigers were taken away from the only home they knew. Taken away from siblings, outdoor space, enrichment, and unconditional love by the many long term staff and volunteers.
While cheers and praise went to the government for taking the tigers away from ‘the zoo’, no-one considered where they would be taken to or what would happen to them. As long as they were no longer being ‘abused’ by tourists for photos and interaction, the animal activists got their wish. They won and believe the tigers have won too. Being ‘rescued’ from the Temple is the furthest thing from helping these Tigers.
The Tigers are now isolated and placed alone in tiny cells with no room to run or play. Many have died due to stress, malnutrition or disease. But for activists, out of sight – out of mind, as long as they win – they don’t consider the consequences. Now these tigers are forgotten. And for any other captive Tiger the same fate will happen if they are taken away. My fight is to not forget and educate the people before this happens again.
Tiger tourist attractions are inevitable. A decrease and improvement is possible. I believe in the following order: 1. Work with the zoos of ways to improve and help slow down the breeding. 2. Work with the activists and make them aware of the consequences of their actions. 3. Educate and inform the public. Oddly, I do not want people to boycott zoos yet. Most cases the Tigers fate is not good. People will always go and the best thing you can do is stop interacting with the animals. This in itself controls the breeding, which slows down the tourist demand which leads to just viewing and eventually shuts itself down when the tigers pass. (Again this process applies to all animals, but my baby steps are with Tigers)
The easiest and best solution? Keep Tigers in the wild. Ideal? Yes. Realistic? No. This is where those peoples voice’s come through when they fight for what they believe in. Poachers believe they are entitled to making money. Land and habitat loss is entitled to the owners. And lets not forget Mother Natures voice – climate change and biodiversity. So for now, the zoos fight to be open, breed or sell because they believe they need the money. Tourists go because they believe they need the interaction and photo. Activists fight because its (agreeably) wrong. I believe we all need to work together and make the animals lives better while in captivity. Everyone is fighting for what they believe in.
The only voice and fight that really matter are the Tigers. What will you do to try and listen?
Please check out our website For Tigers to learn more.
When most people were planning their families, starting their career and thinking about a mortgage...my plan was to help others, even if it meant giving up all those things. Volunteering became my passion and I would always find a way to make it work. Since 2010 I've travelled the globe and have had some amazing volunteer experiences ... and a life I'm proud of.