World Animal Protection said in a release that the 'Tiger temple', a tourist attraction in Thailand, has been closed to the public since last Monday, when the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) raided it following allegations of illegal smuggling of animal body parts.

Gajender K Sharma, Country Director at World Animal Protection India, said thorough investigations are required to throw light on "illegal wildlife trade and help to uncover the hidden cruelty at tourist attractions."

Expressing hope that the government would take lesson from "horrible discovery" made in the Tiger temple, he said, "we would like to urge the Government of India to initiate such investigations into animal entertainment venues in India as well."

"This incident is a turning point for all animal entertainment venues. We need to ensure a better future for these animals at a government or affiliated sanctuary perating to the highest possible welfare standards," he said in the release.

Shubhobroto Ghosh, Wildlife Project Manager at World Animal Protection India said the breeding of tigers kept under such conditions serves no conservation benefit - they are bred in cruel confinement purely for profit.

"It's a far cry from their natural lives in the wild," he said. The popular Thai Buddhist temple at Kanchanaburi, 140 km from Bangkok, where visitors can pet and take 'selfies' with tigers, started keeping and breeding tigers 15 years ago and has promoted itself as a spiritual sanctuary where wild animals and humans can peacefully coexist.

The temple authorities have been accused of being involved in illegal wildlife trade and animal mistreatment for almost a decade by government officials and animal rights activists.

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