Half the tigers rescued from Thai temple reported dead

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai wildlife officials say that more than half the tigers rescued three years ago from a Buddhist temple where they served as a popular tourist attraction have died of disease.

A national parks official said Monday the tigers were vulnerable to illness because of inbreeding, leading to laryngeal paralysis causing respiratory failure. Eighty-six of 147 rescued tigers kept at government-run wildlife sanctuaries have died.

The temple in the western province of Kanchanaburi served for more than a decade as a zoo where tourists could pay to pose for photos with them, despite concerns about possible mistreatment and suspicions of wildlife trafficking.

Police found tiger skins and teeth and tiger bone amulets when they raided the temple, as well as 60 cub carcasses stuffed in freezers and in formaldehyde in jars.