Although lions are very nice and all, (kings of the jungle and all that), I remain forever in love with tigers. I was a bit surprised to see a couple of huge cages of tigers as we were walking around.
The lion park we went to is actually a research and breeding facility as well as a tourist thing, so animals get donated to them from time to time. This tiger was one of two who came right up to the fence.The guy taking us around said, “When they’re making the noise they’re making now, it’s ok to pat them through the fence. If they stop making it, don’t put your fingers through.”
So I patted the tigers. I was really surprised that not many other people did… why wouldn’t you take the opportunity when it’s there? Incidentally, I was also surprised at the amount of talk from some of the ladies about handbags, shoes, hair styles etc. Really??? We’re walking with lions, for pete’s sake!! Anyway, back to the tigers.
They were gorgeous! I kept my fingers away from the bitey end and enjoyed the moment. After a couple of minutes they got sick of us and went off and did tigery things by themselves.
This adult tiger had a bit of a back story.Apparently South Africa has a slight animal smuggling problem. People like adopting wild animals for pets, which is understandable as the cubs are so cute. But with a bit of forward thinking it doesn’t take terribly long to see where the problems might lie.
This tiger was smuggled into the country as a baby and lived in a household with a lion cub and a dog. Things were fine until the tiger killed the dog one day. This upset the family, so they moved him into a small cage in the back yard and fed him cat food to keep him alive, but didn’t let him out to exercise. His hips didn’t form properly as he was growing and he now walks with a limp. After a couple of years, he and his lion friend were donated to the park. As tigers are solitary animals in the wild, it was decided to move his lion friend away. He sunk into depression and didn’t eat for 3 weeks.
So the search was on to find him a mate.
As luck would have it, a female tiger cub was found by customs, so the lion park jumped through a lot of red tape to secure her for their boy. They have now been sharing a very large cage for ages. They can be alone when they want to, but look at what we saw on our way back to the lodge:
If you look closely you can see he has his arm over her.
I love a happy ending.
Thermomix recipe: Chickpea salad