SUNDAY 4th OCTOBER 2020 ~ BLOG POST
Prompt ~ Explore what your travels in Asia have been like.
by John Yeo
During our visit to the Thai Hua museum, which is housed in an old school building, built in the Portuguese style, we were impressed at the huge influence the Chinese community had on Phuket. We were able to examine many photographs and artefacts relating to the early Chinese immigrants here. This was a great informative cultural episode in our visit to Thailand.
We were enormously impressed with the sunsets and the wild life in Thailand and I couldn’t resist snapping a few photographs during our visit.
Then came one of the huge highlights of our visit to Phuket island in Thailand when we visited a facility called the Tiger Kingdom.
This tourist attraction is laid out in three areas where the visitors can interact with their choice of Tiger by size, ranging from cub to full grown.The most popular area was the cage containing the tiger cubs. The areas were individually priced or there is a ticket available for all three areas.
We chose to visit a cage containing fully grown adult tigers. We waited quite a while for our turn in a long queue and we had to sign a form that effectively stated we knew the dangers and would follow the printed rules.
We entered a cage containing two full grown tigers accompanied by a keeper, armed with a bamboo pole and a professional photographer. Apparently the bamboo pole is used as a form of control by the keeper. If the tiger shows any sign of aggression, the keeper administers a sharp rap on the tiger’s nose. This is a form of control that apparently works.
We were then able to experience some extremely close contact with the tigers which involved stroking and petting them while the photographer took photographs. We had been advised to always sit and stand behind the tiger when we were stroking them and not to make any sudden moves.
This was an incredible feeling of our vulnerability in the scheme of things and we were both overwhelmed with the experience. We were able to take many photographs on our mobile phone cameras.
I was somewhat wary before we made this visit as I had read and heard many horror stories of cruelty to caged animals in the guise of conservation. I enquired on the net and I questioned the keeper who was in the cage with us during our visit. I had heard these magnificent cats were drugged to make them docile. I was assured they weren’t drugged and the reason they were compliant was because this was normally their sleeping period and they were ready for sleep. These tigers are bred and raised in captivity and their way of life in captivity, with food and shelter provided, makes them totally dependent on their keepers. So much so that if it was necessary; these tigers would never survive in the wild, making it highly questionable if there was any conservation going on here at all.
We did enjoy this memorable experience of getting up close to one of these huge, magnificent big cats. At least we can assume that our entrance fee goes some way to keeping them alive, even if it’s a captive life.
©️ Written by John Yeo. All rights reserved.