“OH SHIT” might have been the last words ever to come out of my mouth. Not very profound, but a pretty accurate assessment of my situation. According to witnesses, that’s what I shouted when I was charged by a tiger the day before yesterday. Okay, so the tiger was a cub and the charge may have been more of an attempt at a “pounce”, but I admit to having a moment of fear. Baby or not, it’s a tiger!
John Varty has been raising two tiger cubs by hand, with the intention of releasing them into his wild tiger population. The difficulty is that tiger cubs learn to hunt from their mothers. In this case, John Varty must be their mother and painstakingly teach them everything they need to know in order to survive in the wild. If you toss a dead zebra at a tiger cub, it will play with it but not eat it. It doesn’t realize it’s food. Teaching it to make that connection and eventually kill its own food is a very long process.
While at Tiger Canyons I had the unique opportunity to go out “walking” with the two cubs, who receive daily training sessions. They’re getting quite big now and when they play, they play hard.
Tigers love the water and are great swimmers. A dead warthog was placed in a pool of muddy water and when the excited tigers were released from the back of the jeep, it was highly entertaining, believe me.
It was a wonderful experience to watch young tigers discover their own nature. And I discovered a little about mine as well. When a tiger is running straight toward me, I shout “Oh shit!”
Enjoy the photos…