Posts Tagged ‘tiger’

Breakfast with the Big Cats

21 October, 2012

Earlier in the year I spotted a Groupon offer that sounded like it was made for me – Breakfast with the Big Cats!  So I bought the voucher and got to use it this summer.

Cheetah faceThe voucher included an overnight stay at the Cheshunt Marriott hotel with dinner included.  The hotel was clean and nice.  The menu for this break was fairly limited but you could choose alternative things off the ordinary menu if you didn’t mind paying extra.  They seemed to be a bit confused about which menu they were giving us as they gave us two different ‘special’ menus at one point.  I thought it was a shame that they didn’t let you pick something off the main menu if it was cheaper than the options on the specials menu.

In the morning we made our way to Paradise Wildlife Park before it was open to the breakfast.  There we met our guide, who was one of the cat keepers, and the other 4 people who were doing the tour with us.  We also got given some goodie bags which included DVDs and t-shirts.

Our guide took us around the different big cats and told us about their stories, as well as some general information about the work that Paradise was doing.  It was lovely to have an opportunity to see the cats while no-one else was around – made for some nice photo opportunities.

Om nom nomAt the end of our tour we got to get up close with one of the tigers while our guide showed us how they perform some routine medical checks on the animals – namely feeding small bits of meat through the bars so the tiger put his feet up and the keeper could check his paws and belly!

After the tour we got to go and have a full English breakfast in the restaurant.  They couldn’t have been friendlier – greeting us and checking what we’d like to eat, and then coming back and asking if we wanted more!  There was plenty of tea, coffee and orange juice to go around too.  The food was fairly basic canteen style but it was all freshly cooked and nice.

Doesn't taste like chickenWhile we were eating breakfast the zoo opened to the public and we were free then to spend as much of the rest of the day as we wanted in the park.  One of my highlights was watching the white lions – they were just about to get their enclosure refurbished, but the male lion decided it was time to make a start.  He managed to chew his way through one of the huge logs making up his platform and totally rip it out of the rest.  It then became a rather large cat toy!

Overall I thought the deal was excellent, and the park very good.  The zoo is relatively small but they had made a lot of effort to design to park in ways that meant there was plenty of room for everyone to see, with raised walkways as well as the standard viewing windows.  It also meant that is was good for photography as there was some different angles and places you could view the animals from.

More photos from our visit on my Flickr set.


Jungala at Busch Gardens

26 May, 2008

White Tiger3Last year when we visited Busch Gardens I had been disappointed that the tigers were off show.  This year, Busch Gardens has just opened it’s new exhibit, Jungala.  Jungala now houses orangutan, flying foxes, gharials, gibbons and the one animal I headed straight for… the tigers!

Mixed Colour Tiger8The tigers were split into two large multi-level areas with plenty of excellent viewing.  Their exhibits are well laid out, with rocks, grass, waterfalls and pools for them to play in.  For the public, there are large viewing windows at various points, including one where you can see the tigers underwater as well as above land.  There is also a tiger lookout point where you can pop you head up into a domed area for very close up view.  Unfortunately, there was only one and it was up a ladder so a queue quickly formed and I felt that could have been better thought out.

Tiger3I really enjoyed watching the tigers being fed scraps of meat and playing in their pool.  I took rather a lot of photographs… as usual!  I do love Busch Gardens and seeing the tigers this year was great – so much so, we visited twice this year.

The rest of my photo’s from Jungala are on Flickr here.

Save the Amur Leopard

9 November, 2007

I went to the most fascinating talk last night at Marwell Zoo.  It took me through a rollercoaster of emotions and left me wanting to tell you all about it.

Last night, Sarah Christie, who is the ZSL Carnivore Programme Manager came along to give a couple of talks.  The first was about the Amur Leopard, and the second about Tigers and more specifically the trade in tiger bones.  Sarah does a huge amount of work with an organisation called the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) whose mission is to help protect and secure a future for the leopards and tigers in the wild.

Spotty beautyEveryone who knows me knows that I love the big cats, but the Amur Leopard has long been one of my favourite animals.  Whenever I am volunteering up at Marwell people are always shocked to learn there are only 30-35 of these beautiful cats left in the wild, and only around 290 left in zoos around the world. 

Last night Sarah’s first presentation was all about the Amur Leopard Conservation Support Programme and work of various organisations that have come together to investigate repopulating the wild with some of these cats.  She spoke about the problems that existed – some of the more obvious ones like finding a safe location for them, as well as some of the other issues they faced which included political agendas and arguments over what constituted a pure enough breed to use. 

It was pleasing to hear about a potential location that has been found not far from where the remaining leopard live, but it will still take a long time for the next steps.  The leopards need to be brought up in the location and taught to stay away from humans to help their chance of this working.  That can be done by keeping hands off, and also through aversion techniques, however, a much harder problem is teaching the leopards to stay away from the tigers which live in the same area.

After a break, Sarah moved on to her second talk about the tigers.  Whilst the use of tiger bones in Chinese medicine was banned, the companies responsible for the tiger farms in China constantly try to overthrow the ban.  They haven’t stopped farming the tigers, and it was really sickening to hear about how they were being treated. 

One thing I found very interesting was about how ALTA are helping to educate the local communities, teaching the children to love and respect the leopards and tigers.  Helping support the work they are doing is not just about donating money – although much is needed.  The local people are heartened to see that others around the world care about the cats and ALTA can help reach out to them by showing photos and using stories about how we care.  So whatever you are doing, share the Amur Leopard emblem with the world!

Amur Logo

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