Ok, that's sort of a lie. But when I originally started at the University of New England to earn a degree in animal behavior, I wanted to work with wild animals in captivity. Ideally, I would have been an enrichment specialist working at zoos. Essentially you get to make a lot of money coming up with creative ways to give the animals a more natural life, keep them thinking, and play to their instincts. Sounds like a blast, right? Unfortunately it is a long and difficult process to get that kind of job, and you may never get there. So, in the end, I decided that I should play to my strengths, and stick with what I know, which is dogs.
But before I made that decision, I had the opportunity to spend a summer working with a big cat sanctuary. I raised tiger cubs, played with leopards, and even got bit by an overly playful mountain lion. Oh yeah, it was awesome. We did educational shows for the public, which mostly made up of us playing with the cats and bottle feeding the cubs. I enjoyed every minute I spent with the cats, and hated every other second I was there. As it turns out, the "sanctuary" was only in it for the money, and cut a lot of corners. I never got to see the home base of the sanctuary in Texas, as I was stationed with the educational show, which traveled the Midwest. They are called Great Cat Adventures, and while the shows are cool, the people who run it are not. Sort of a buyer beware, I guess. They actually sold one of the cubs to a circus after I left, just because they were given a good offer.
The only real reason I'm posting about it is because I came across my pictures, and wanted to share. I also have tigers on the brain. Six Flags, NJ recently shut down their Tiger Education Show in a very quiet and suspicious fashion, and don't want the media to know about it. This show was one of the good guys- the trainers raised the cubs and didn't train them to do silly tricks, but used positive reinforcement to put commands to some of their natural behaviors. The trainers gave their lives to this group of tigers, and had a fantastic enclosure for them. When Six Flags shut them down, they banned the trainers from the premises, and locked the tigers up. Now the tigers, who have had the same routine since birth, have been moved to the park's safari. It's a smaller space with no human interaction. Basically a bad situation all around, and sounds to me like a power play by management. I'll attach a link to a great video about this show, so you can see how amazing these tigers are. And, of course, here are some more kitty cat pictures from my time in the Midwest.
Temple of the Tiger YouTube video about the educational show that was...