However, it is illegal to operate a tiger farm in Thailand. Mr Wiek, who has been following the trade for years, says that about 20 establishments are to be considered as farms rather than zoos, as more than 80 per cent of their animals are tigers and the facilities are actively involved in their breeding.
In addition, he said, captive breeding promotes the hunt for wild tigers.
It may seem contradictory, but feeding and raising a tiger to adulthood in Thailand costs more than going to the jungle and shooting one. Mr Wiek said the existence of tiger farms is creating a market for tiger parts, which gives poachers an incentive to kill them.
] "Tiger breeding has a direct impact on the wild population," said Mr Wiek, who runs a wildlife rescue center and advised the parliament. "It is much cheaper to photograph in the wild."
Tiger skins, bones, puffs and other parts are in great demand in China and Vietnam, especially for use in so-called traditional medicine.
Trade in tiger parts is so brazen that at least one company offers foreign tourists open tiger bone powder as an alleged health supplement, Mr. Wiek said.
"I can not remember a case where a zoo was trapped for illegal trafficking or The illegal property has actually lost its zoo license," he said.
The director of the Thai Wildlife Conservation Office, Kanjana Nitaya, whose office oversees the zoos, said that all zoos in the country meet the requirements of their licenses.