When I first visited the Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai, I was very reluctant. I had heard mixed things about a similar facility located in Thailand. At this other location, people were reporting that the Tiger’s appeared to be mistreated and/or even drugged to make them more docile. I can’t comment on that other facility, but at the Tiger Kingdom, this was definitely not the case.
Cats are very inactive creatures during the day, especially on a hot day, they are nocturnal after-all. Just look at your everyday house cat, they will sleep for most of the day and become active come nighttime. When I first encountered the tigers, they were lounging around as you would expect any cat to be doing. Since I am blessed with such wonderful luck, it wasn’t long before the rain began to fall after I had introduced myself to one of the full grown tigers. Let me tell you, once that rain started falling, it was quite clear that they were not sedated.
When you first enter the facility, you will be asked which type of tiger you would like to interact with close up. There are the big cats which are older than one year, the medium cats which are 9-12 months, small tigers that are 3-9 months and the new born that are 2-3 months. You can choose to visit as many of these tigers as you wish, but it will cost you per person, per tiger. The oldest tigers are the cheapest to visit, while the new born are the most expensive.
Already added into the cost of visiting the cats is an insurance policy should anything happen to you. Signing a form that basically says there is a possibility that you will be maimed or killed is probably a good thing, because it will remind you that tigers are wild animals. Hell, I’ve been bit and scratched and bloodied by my own cat who I have raised from a kitten. Now imagine that cat is thirty times larger. You get my point. When you enter into the pens, it is important to listen to your guide at all times and do whatever he asks you to do.
If you are brave enough, you will want to visit with the larger cats. Coming face to face with a 250 kg tiger is an experience that really cannot be described. Typically these cats will be lying down. The guide will gain the cats attention and ask you to approach the cat from the rear. You can then sit down near the cat and pet its back and have your picture taken. Be careful not to reach as high as its shoulders, this can get the cat all worked up and you definitely don’t want that.
The smaller tigers are still small enough that they can’t really hurt you, although they can still bite and claw like any kind of cat. If you are afraid of the bigger cats, you will definitely want to get into the cage with the smaller cubs. The new born tigers are the most fun as they are full of energy and you get to actually play with them.
Shouldn’t Be Missed
If you are in Chiang Mai, the Tiger Kingdom is somewhere that you will want to go out of your way to visit. There are very few places in the world where you can physically interact with real tigers and the photos will be a testament of your bravery to all those who see them.
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