Thai tigers sent to breeding centre, not Chinese cooking pots

BANGKOK – A Thai official has denied media reports that 100 tigers exported to China last year ended up as meat dishes in restaurants specialising in exotic food, news reports said Tuesday.

Plodprasop Suraswadi, permanent secretary to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying he had been reassured by China’s deputy forestry chief, Meng Xialin, that the Thai tigers had not been eaten.

“If the tigers were sent to a restaurant, it would reflect very badly on China,” Plodprasop said on Monday.

Chinese media reports said the tigers were sent to restaurants specialising in unusual dishes rather than their intended destination, the Sanya breeding centre in China’s southern province of Hainan.

The reports reached Thai Environment Minister Praphat Panyachartrak, who requested clarification.

The tigers were raised at the Si Racha Tiger Zoo, 70 kilometres southeast of Bangkok, and sent to China in December. They are alive and well at the breeding centre, the Chinese  official was quoted as saying.

Tigers are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangers Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), which prohibits their export and import for commercial purposes but allows the animals to be kept for breeding, research and protection.

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