A Thai national parks official says authorities have found 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer at a Buddhist temple that operated as an admission-charging zoo.

The discovery Wednesday happened while authorities were removing tigers from the temple in western Kanchanaburi province following accusations that monks were involved in illegal breeding and trafficking of the animals.

Anusorn Noochdumrong, an official from the Department of National Parks who has been overseeing the transfer of the temple's 137 tigers to shelters, said the cubs were found in a freezer where the temple staff kept food.

The temple's Facebook page said in March that the temple's former vet had decided to stop cremating cubs that died soon after birth. Calls to the temple office were not answered.