Shocking footage of tourists teasing tigers with food at a visitor attraction in Thailand has emerged. Scroll down to see the video
The practice of 'tiger teasing' at the Tiger Temple in western Thailand has been slammed by animal rights groups as "stupid" and "cruel".
Tourists pay from 600 Baht (£12) to dangle food on the end of a stick in front of tigers, who are allegedly being drugged for the money-making gimmick.
As part of an investigation for the organisation Care for the Wild, Sybelle Foxcroft worked undercover at the temple for a number of years.
She called the practice the "absolute height of stupidity", and said she believes the animals are being drugged.
According to The Sun, she explained: "They showed every sign and symptom of drugging.
"The particular tigers that were in close contact with the public were given some sort of food, after which they became quite drowsy. That food was prepared only by Thai staff of the temple, and not foreigners.
"I am a wildlife biologist, and have worked with many tigers, and I deliberately went to the tigers I suspected to be drugged and examined them closely. Their eyes were dilated in broad sunlight, they were listless, tongues hanging limply, and you could basically do anything to them and they wouldn't react for about two-three hours."
Sybelle, who has written a book about her experience at the temple called Behind the Cloak of Buddha, added: "These tigers have never eaten red meat in their lives. They are fed a diet of near vegetarianism. This diet causes their bones to be bent, bowed legs, arched spines, abnormal bodies, disease etc.
"They also receive no enrichment at all, and have spent years with no sunlight.
"Add to that, a severe lack of exercise, and incorrect veterinary care and you have a whole lot of sickly tigers.
"There are now approximately 115 tigers inside the temple. Hidden underneath in cells. The education must get out there. The Tiger Temple practises severe abuse and major exploitation for money.
"There is absolutely no conservation value of these tigers."
As a result of her investigation, a coalition of 39 conservation groups, including the WWF, has campaigned to authorities in Thailand to take action against the Tiger Temple.
Although the "sanctuary" claims money from tourists are going towards feeding the animals and "to fund building a larger tiger sanctuary which will allow the animals to live in an almost natural environment", a spokesperson for PETA said it has a long history of animal abuse:"Tiger Temple is a notorious pit of despair.
"Animals are beaten and chained from the time they are babies; most big cats go mad from captivity. Every year, incidents of tiger maulings are reported at these tourist attractions.
"People can protect themselves and tigers by never frequenting these hellholes and donating to habitat-protection programmes instead." By AOL Travel