Upon our visit to the infamous Tiger Kingdom in Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, we had a few deep and probing questions that needed some answers.
- if you’re allergic to cats, are you also allergic to tigers?
- do tigers feel attracted to Santa hats?
- are the tigers treated humanely?
We tried to do as much research on that last question as we could before making our final decision to go.
Blake and I had opted NOT to go to the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi because we’d heard bad reviews of it with regards to animal treatment. In this case, you could still make the point that the tigers are still cooped up instead of in the wild like they should be — but we read that the trainers were very loving and playful with the tigers, not abusive, and that was important to us as well.
As far as the first two questions, it appears that a) yes, Blake still got a sneeze attack after being around these giant cats (and it didn’t stop for a few days), and b) no, the tigers are not attracted to Santa hats. We were told to not go near their faces, though, and approach from behind so that they didn’t think we wanted to “play.” Also, I learned that tigers like to have their bellies scratched — hard!
Opting for a professional photographer (299 baht for each cage – we did one “big cats” and another “small cats”) was worth it to me, even though I am normally a cheapskate when it comes to money-sucking add-ons. Our guy and the trainer followed us around and kept
us the tigers entertained, and now we have 2 CDs with more than 100 photographs to share.
This trip and these pictures were basically our Christmas presents to each other; a good practice in buying experiences, not stuff. A Christmas Eve cuddle with tigers will definitely be something I’ll remember for a long time to come.