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Now that's what you call a toothy grin: Tourists play with tigers at Thai sanctuary run by Buddhist monks


Cheeky: A Thai Buddhist monk plays with a hand-reared tiger at the Tiger Temple

It takes a brave man to put his hands inside a tiger's mouth but this Buddhist monk seems to know exactly what he is doing.
The big cats and the monks at the Tiger Temple have a unique relationship as the animals were either born in captivity or hand-reared from cubs.
As these amazing pictures show, tourists and staff are able to get closer to the animals than almost anywhere else in the world.

Content: The tigers are hand-reared by monks at the temple meaning they are more used to human contact

Adorable: A tourist bottle feeds the cub at the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand

Their tolerance of humans has made the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province - about 80km from the capital Bangkok - one of Thailand's biggest tourist attractions.
The photographs show one tiger allowing the monk to playfully put his hands in its mouth, while another shows the same big cat sticking his tongue out in a cheeky pose.

Conservation: The Tiger Temple is a tourist attraction and money is used to help care for the animals

Tourists travel from thousands of miles around to have such close access to the majestic animals.
One lucky visitor was able to spend time bottle-feeding a tiger cub, while others stood within feet of adults as they played around in the water.
The Tiger Temple was originally founded as a forest sanctuary but changed course when the first cub was brought to the monks in 1999.
Since then it has grown to become home to about 90 big cats.

On the agenda: The issue of Asian big cat conservation will be addressed at the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in Bangkok

For a basic entrance fee - or 'donation' - of 1,000 baht (about £22) visitors are given a tour of the site and the chance to enter the sanctuary's Tiger Canyon - a quarry containing sleeping tigers chained to the ground.
For an extra fee, visitors can have their picture taken with a tiger resting it's head on their lap.
The sanctuary has been dogged by controversy surrounding the ethics of how the animals are kept.
In recent years, the temple has had to deny that it sedates the tigers to make them docile enough to be handled by tourists.
The monks claim the animals are calm because they were hand-reared from young.

Stand back: A Thai worker and tourists play with a tiger in the water at the Tiger Temple

source: Read more at Dailymail