Thailand's controversial "tiger temple" is facing fresh criminal charges after the bodies of 40 tiger cubs were found on its premises, the country's wildlife authorities have said.
The cubs were found in a freezer at the Thai Budhist temple, which has been accused of wildlife trafficking and animal abuse.
Thai police made the grim discovery while removing around a dozen adult cats from the infamous temple, which had been a popular tourist attraction until it was raided by the authorities on Monday.
Now, national parks official Adisorn Noochdumrong says the temple operators could face criminal charges for storing the cub carcasses without permission, according to AFP.
"We found 40 tiger cubs today, they were aged about one or two days when they died but we don't quite know yet how long they have been dead," police colonel Bandith Meungsukhum told.
He said a fresh criminal complaint would now be filed against the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua temple, in the western province of Kanchanaburi.
It remains unclear why the dead cubs were being stored in the temple, though tiger bones and body parts are frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine.
But a worker at the temple told that they were merely following the instructions of a vet.
"The previous vet started this policy. [It was ordered] to combat the allegations of the temple selling the cubs," he said.
He also claimed that the National Park of Thailand (DNP) were aware of how the cubs were being stored.
"It should be noted that the DNP were fully aware of the cubs in the freezer and had entered there on previous occasions," the worker said.
Local reporters have posted images on social media which show the cubs' bodies lined up in several rows along with what appeared to be a small boar.
One reporter from the Khasod news website claimed he saw animal intestines being stored in containers on the premises. The temple's monks have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
"There are rumours and allegations constantly being spread on the internet about Tiger Temple," it said in a recent statement on Facebook defending its actions.
"The general mortality rate of captive newborn tiger cubs has by some researchers been documented to be as high as 40%; the temple mortality rate is therefore comparatively low.
Source: The Telegraph