Are permits for captive tigers being used to launder tigers from Thailand to Viet Nam? That’s the question being asked following a raid by Thai authorities on an apartment outside Bangkok that led to the confiscation of four adult tigers and two cubs. The large cats had been kept in poor conditions: small rooftop cages and eating solely chicken bones. The owner’s permit allowed him to keep two tigers.
Following his arrest, the owner said he planned to open a zoo in the province. There’s a legal loophole regarding zoos because they have permits to own tigers, so they can breed the tigers and sell the offspring.
This raid was prompted by intelligence gathered during a broader investigation into illegal wildlife networks in Thailand. Thailand is a major hub for the wildlife black market and is one of just 13 countries with wild tiger populations. In February 2012, Thai police busted four men chopping up an adult male tiger at their underground slaughterhouse in Bangkok. In March, Thai authorities seized over 200 live animals, including five tigers, in a raid of an illegal wildlife supplier at his compound in eastern Saraburi Province.