I couldn’t wait to see Tiger Kingdom. The little kid dream of seeing a tiger up close. When I saw that Thailand had several places one could visit with Tigers I knew I would go. I read the reviews. I read about responsible tourism. I debated myself about whether I should go. In the end, I knew I had to go. I had to see it for myself. I had to have the experience.
Tiger Kingdom was well managed and clean. Much like many zoos one goes to the tigers are in pens. The tigers on display have larger areas to roam and I saw no evidence that they were drugged. On the contrary, they were active and engaged in play with the handlers. They had toys, games and other activities to keep them busy. Nocturnal by nature, some tigers were asleep but would occasionally get up to wander.
My kids were not allowed in with the largest tigers. My son stayed with the babies. He got to bottle feed them. My daughter enjoyed two different sizes. We encountered the largest. Following our guide, he stated that we were to stay with him at all times, not make sudden movements and to stay behind him. Equipped with only a large prod, it was clear there was little he was join to do if our tiger decided to turn. We went in and our Tiger was might and magnificent. He lay down, head raised and we were guided to sit beside him. We could rub his side, touch his back and paws. Another guide took pictures. Anything our guide said, we did. At one point he said to lie down and put my head on it’s belly and I did. I kept thinking how My mother would kill me if she saw me doing this. All of a sudden, he jumped up and lunged at the cage in front of us a wheel chair went by. Clearly he saw the wheels turn and wanted to play or attack them. He paced back and forth watching the oblivious person in the wheelchair. We backed away.
We walked around to several other tigers. Each one allowing us to visit and touch them. One sleeping tiger was our guides favorite and he showed us his huge teeth. It was about then that I snapped back into reality and realized I was in a cage surrounded by tigers.
I have since recommended Tiger Kingdom to friends. Yet, I do so with reservation. Please understand that I truly believe in responsible tourism and the importance of understanding what it is you are impacting when visiting places like this. It is also important to truly take time to understand the plight of the tiger.
So if you do visit, or just find this blog post interesting. Please take time to help the Tigers.