Thailand: Tigers

Thailand: Tigers

Hey all, apologies for the longer-than-planned hiatus. Internet availability in Thailand proved to be even worse than generally advertised, and on returning,life got in the way, the way it does. On the plus side, I do have some new projects which I will be photographing and showing you soon – I’ve been sewing skirts for myself and friends, have learnt to make an infinity dress, and have been sewing heatpacks. I have some shoulder issues and have been learning to run; between those two things I have frequent need of heatpacks.

In any case, I wanted to present you with the most exciting of my pictures from Thailand – namely, myself cuddling up with a big ol’ tiger. Although this tiger was neither the biggest there, nor particularly old, it was plenty big for me. They did in fact tell me the tiger’s name, but I was too busy trying not to wet myself to remember.

The tiger is male, and around one year old. We cuddled up to them – and patted them, and refrained from playing with them – at the Tiger Kingdom, outside of Chiang Mai. Despite rumours to the contrary, the tigers are not drugged. While sleepy, they were alert during our visit, and had no compunction getting up and ignoring us when something else caught their interest – like, for example, another tiger approaching. I challenge you to keep your cool and not whimper when in proximity to not one, but TWO adolescent tigers. I am proud to say that I at no time cried, although I now understand what people say about the experience of true fear on hearing the distinctive cough of an adult tiger.

The tigers are not interested in attacking people because they’re extremely well fed, and have been essentially hand-raised since they were one month old. They are bred to be kept in zoos. While I feel they could have larger enclosures, none of the tigers I saw showed any signs of stress (pacing behaviour, erratic responses, aggression, scratching, bald patchs). The keepers stay in close proximity with their charges and I saw one keeper come up to a tiger, and put his hands on his face, and play-wrestle the way I do with my dog. I was caught between being touched and having heart failure. I had no concerns for their welfare.

We also got to see what I am pretty sure was a near new-born tiger cub, with his eyes still closed. He cried like a two week old kitten and needed help feeding and pooping. Tragically, the photos I took are pretty poor, as he was on the other side of a glass window and a enclosure cage. But I can recommend Tiger Kingdom to any of the more adventurously minded visiting Thailand.

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