Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tiger Love:

Quote of the day: "Lay down on tiger, please, Madame. Mai pen rai. (No worries.) Had beeg breakfast thees morning."

So, of course, I lay down on the tiger. On six different tigers, actually. And listened to belly rumbles...held one by the tail...stroked soft tiger fur...inhaled not unpleasant tiger smells...gazed deep into tiger eyes...

And fell head over heels in love with tigers.

It all happened at Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai.

Tiger Kingdom is a breeding center for Thailand's critically endangered native species of tiger--the Indo-Chinese tiger, one of five different tiger species world-wide. In the past, they have also done some breeding of Sumatran and Bengal tigers but their main focus is Thailand's native tiger.

Only about 100 Indo-Chinese tigers remain in the wild teak forests of Thailand. Poachers have been relentless in killing them to harvest tiger skins and sell body parts for ancient Chinese medicinal remedies.

Tiger Kingdom is trying to keep the breed from disappearing altogether. The tigers are bred and hand-raised here until they are roughly two to two and a half years old. Then they go to zoos all over the world.

These are gorgeous, healthy, well-cared for animals. What enables the center to keep going in tough economic times are the tourists who come here to see them. I paid 740 baht (about $22.) to spend 15 minutes among the big cats and small cats. I also paid a staff person to snap photos of me having fun with the tigers.

The big cats were 20 months old (nearly full grown) and the smaller ones only seven months. I could have chosen cubs also, but you're limited to only 10 minutes with them.

Tigers are active at night and sleep during the day, especially after a big breakfast (chicken, I was told). However, I got enough photos of tigers rough-housing to know that they don't sleep all the time during the day!

We had to be careful not to inadvertently "invite them to play." (I really didn't want even the smaller ones jumping on top of me. Their paws are huge--and so are their jaws.)

We were told it was okay to touch them but to avoid the face and front paws and use a firm touch--nothing tentative or wishy-washy.

Playing with tigers wasn't the only thing I did today (more on that later) but it was sure the most memorable. I count this an "experience of a lifetime!"

Tigers are quite comfy actually!

Quietly approaching a youngster. The one you see prowling next door is the one I'm hugging in the top photo.

Just a big sleepy pussy cat. This is a seven month old female named--are you ready for this?--Jennifer.

The Big Cats--almost full grown and absolutely gorgeous! This one will be going to a zoo soon.

I think this one is my favorite photo because there's TWO of the Big Cats in it. There were three in the enclosure and I got to "play" with all three.

Take a look at these eyes! There's a beautiful stone called "tiger eye" that comes from Central Thailand. It's this exact same color.

Seven month old.

Love this handsome youngster with his big paws.

There have been times in my life when I thought I had "a tiger by the tail." Well, this time I really do!

Could feel its heartbeat here!

Have more tiger pix but can't stay awake any longer. Hope you enjoyed the break from temples! Probably bored you with all of these shots. But after all, how often in one's life does one get to snuggle up with a tiger?


  1. I can't believe it! Those are wonderful photos. Does your condo allow tiger pets? I'll take 2. Oh,I forgot I'm alergic to cats! judy

  2. By the look on your face, and that is quite a smile, we must warn you not to buy a bigger suitcase and try to slip a little putty-cat back home. As you remember, MB does not allow pets! It appears you would let one sleep on your futon in a heartbeat. The next time you feel like you have a tiger by the tail, just remember this experience, and know that it could turn out to be a good thing. ~E

    What an experience! We've never seen you look so blissful (except when you had those french fries in close proximity). Wish we were there with you! ~S

  3. Pam, Have you ever heard of the T.V. show...Animals Gone Wild ? You must have brought your Guardian Angel with you !! Barb

  4. That is the cutest thing ever! #1 on my list of things to do in Thailand! I love tigers!


  5. Wow! What a day! I loved all the pics! Hugs! Catherine

  6. Oh, and the current medal count is 18 for USA (6 gold, 5 silver, 7 bronze). Recent US gold includes: last night Women's downhill, men's snowboard, and tonight men's figure skating. Just amazing! Enjoy your travels and catch up on the Olympics online when you are home!! xo, Catherine

  7. Oh my, I am madly in love with these pictures and those beautiful animals...Gee, and I just wanted to kiss the nose of a dolphin...Only you, my precious much beauty in you and them...moved to tears this morning...:) happy ones!!!

  8. WH-WHAT!? i am one jealous girl! i love cats of all shapes and sizes, and there you are sleeping on one with the best grin ive ever seen! you are having the time of you life, well deserved:)

  9. AMAZING!!!!!! You are one incredible lady, Mary Pamela!! — Sarah

  10. You are our idol Pam!
    Seriously, Renata and I blown away with your pictures, stories and your entire adventure.
    Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you in either Hawaii or San Diego soon.
    She's actually off to Sao Paulo this Wed. for her dad's 70th b-day.
    Ian + Renata

  11. Woooooow! How can this be so safe? What amazing pictures!! These better be up on the walls in the Banyans! :)


  12. Your pictures are great. What a time you are having. You're so brave! Regina

  13. WOW< WOW< WOW!!!!!!!!
    Love Patty : )