Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tiger Temple Kittens Play

Tiger at rest
Tiger Temple

Situated near the border of Mynamar, the Tiger Temple is three hours outside Bangkok, at the doorstep to one of the few remaining wild places in Asia. It began in 1994 when the abbot of the local Buddhist Monastery began rehabilitating injured animals that found his monastery from the forest. A peacock, a sambar, a boar. Then a poacher shot a tigress, and found her cub. Selling the cub on the black market, a collector ordered the cub stuffed. The local taxidermist began the procedure, injecting the cub with formaldehyde, but did not complete the procedure. Having heard of the monk’s efforts in healing wild creatures, the cub found its way to them. Sadly, the cub who was very sick following the injection, died.
The local villagers, not wanting any other cub to fall to such a fate, brought the monks two cubs who lost their mother (again to poachers)several weeks later … then two more. Never having taken care of big cats, it was learning on the job for the monks. Soon the tigers began reproducing, and today the temple houses 46 stunningly beautiful cats, cows, horses, water buffalo, sambars, and a leopard.
Paying my 500 baht admission fee and signing the waiver stating that neither I nor my ancestors would hold the Temple responsible if I ended up as cat food (a good way to cut expenses?) I began a long walk up a dry path, looking side to side for tigers. I figured at any moment I might get pounced, and I wanted to be prepared in case it was “death by tiger.”
Here kitty kitty kitty
Buddhist monks and tiggers
And then, entering a clearing, I saw them. Lying on the ground (tigers cannot fly) being taken care of by the monks, I was awed by their size and beauty. The visitors formed a single file line following the monks as they led the tigers one by one into a small canyon. Once secured to the ground by a metal chain, we got to go to each tiger, stroking its beautifully crafted striped coat while our pictures were taken. These cats up-close are ginormous. The biggest weighed 450 pounds, and was simply awe inspiring.
With 1:30 rapidly approaching, I raced back up the hill to go play with the 6 week old cubs. On the way, I came across a couple 5 month old cubs who I played with under the watchful eyes of the temples volunteers. It’s A LOT of fun, though when you get bit it smarts a lot more than Tabby.
Tiger cub, so cute! 5 months old

pillow anyone?
I then proceeded to play with the 6 week old kittens, wrestling them, picking them up, feeding them milk. It was fricking awesome. One of the best experiences I have had. Fourth time I have gotten to be around tigers, and definitely the best! I think the pictures speak for themselves.

Below are two videos of playing with tigers ---

wrestling with tigers!

getting Bit in this one!

1 comment:

  1. They will grow up, and you will be a tastey snack. :)


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