Today was our second day in Chiang Mai and we spent the day with Paul of Best Tuk Tuk tours (highly recommended by NY Magazine, and by us as well). We first went to an Elephant sanctuary for a ride and show, and then stopped to see some huge cobras. The highlight of the day though was the Tiger Kingdom. Seriously, look. It’s unreal.
Of course, the place is controversial. The owner says the Tigers are raised by humans from birth and get used to having people around. Also, Tigers are least active in the middle of the day and spend most of the time sleeping and then hunt during the night. A few people on Trip Advisor argue that the Tigers are all drugged and mistreated and should be free in the wild. Eh… I don’t think so. Look, should all amazing big animals like this be free and have their habitats preserved forever? Yes. Is that going to happen? No, this is Earth. People destroy and eat and make money and ruin everything. If these Tigers didn’t live at Tiger Kingdom they wouldn’t live.
As for the whole drugged thing, do these kitties look drugged?
The cats were playing the whole time we were there and were quite active. I’ve seen big cats in the wild and they looked drugged during the day. They are nocturnal. End of debate, at least in my opinion. I actually felt worse about the safari I went on in Africa, as we were all up in their home day and night.
All that said THIS WAS FREAKING TERRIFYING. They keep a few handlers around you the entire time, and the guys are happy to take pictures for you (but I kind of wanted them to spend more time making sure the cat didn’t eat my leg). Tiger fur feels a lot more course that you would expect, although I have no idea why I thought they would be fluffy. The handlers encouraged us to lay down on the Tiger, and I eventually worked up to that.
They pant really hard and you have to pet them much more firmly than a normal kitty. It’s amazing. Go, have a once in a lifetime experience, and just don’t tell your self-righteous PETA member friend (who wears leather).