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Tiger Kingdom The Truth

posted in: Thailand, Travel Blog | 34

 

My Experience at Tiger Kingdom

 

I volunteered at Thailands Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai for almost two months from August to September 2014. I worked seven days a week. I would arrive early morning together with the staff, and leave at the end of the day as the park had closed down.

Most of my time was spent with the big cats themselves along with the local staff.  I spent a small amount of time working closeley with the parks veterinarian.

 

Tiger Kingdom
Me and one of the big tigers

 

The Truth about Tiger Kingdom

 

 There are NO DRUGS and I have witnesses NO ABUSE.

Tigers sleep 14-18 hours a day, in the wild.

 

That is natural. They come from a hot climate and are normally active during the cooler part of the day. Most tourists tend to visit parks and zoos during the midday sun when animals are dozing in the heat. In the wild big cats use a lot of energy when hunting. They don’t always catch their prey which means they sometimes only eat once a week. A meat diet builds strong muscle but does not offer a lasting supply of energy.

Think about it, do you have a house cat? Do they not spend most of its day laying around, then finally wake up for a short time to rush around the house to tear things off the shelves?

Don’t believe me? Keep reading and find out ALL the details yourself.

 

Tiger Temple and Tiger Kingdom – two very different parks

First it is important to note that there are in fact TWO very different parks in Thailand.

  • Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, which is famous for the monks who casually interact with the tigers
  • Tiger Kingdom that has one park in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Ubon.

 

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Photograph from Tiger Temple

 

Tiger Temple

Tiger Temple started with a monk who was given a large piece of land. People then (supposedly) brought animals to him to care for. That is how the park started. Today however the Tiger Temple is in the hands of the government. I do not know why there was a change in ownership, but there are many rumors circling around that I will not address in this article.  

I did visit Tiger Temple, but note that this was only as a visitor, just like all the other tourists. They have quite a large area of land that unfortunately could be used in a better way for the animals. The tigers at Tiger Temple were sleeping in the hot sun during my visit, which in itself is not very surprising considering their nature.

 

Chained Up

However, I did not expect to see that all the tigers were in fact chained up and could not move around freely. A few of the younger tigers were walked around the park in a leash by employees. I had about 10 minutes in the tiger enclosure together with a stressed employee.

At the time of my visit, July 2014 the employees had to hold your hand for the entire stay inside the enclosure. I did not get a chance to take pictures myself but had to hand over my camera to the employee while I awkwardly posed with one tiger at a time. I also did not learn anything about the animals themselves during my visit.  I am sure that Tiger Temple has a way to give their animals the exercise they need, but I did not see how. 

 

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My friend, a tiger keeper at Tiger Kingdom

 

Tiger Kingdom

Tiger Kingdom is privately owned by a woman named Kochakorn Chaiyabut. The first branch of the company opened as Ubon Zoo in Thailand. In 2008, a second park was opened; Tiger Kingdom Chiang Mai. Within the last few years a third park has opened in Phuket. 

During my time at Tiger Kingdom, what surprised me the most was the employees’ genuine concern and care for these animals. Often when no visitors were around the trainers would stay within the enclosure to play and pet these animals. New toys were made daily for the tigers and the animal caretakers often took personal offense when the visitors would criticize the tigers and their well-being.

 

A normal day at the park

A workday starts early, at 06:30-07:00 the workers are already busy cleaning the enclosures and preparing for a long day. My first stop of the day would be the tiger enclosure of the Smallest. I would assist in bathing, toweling and hair drying the cubs. Without a mother to look after them, they need help with pooping and staying clean. It is not an easy job to try to wash and towel down triplets when they constantly find something to distract them or decide to steal the towel you are using.

 

The cubs are not fed repeatedly by tourists

 

There are charts available for how often and how much the cubs need depending on their size and age at Tiger kingdom.

I’d normally babysit the tigers while the staff went off to have breakfast before the park opened each day.  After that, I’d go to the veterinary clinic where the new born cubs are kept. Very few people are allowed in there to make sure that the cubs stay healthy and undisturbed. The youngest ones are bottle fed, and there’s a certain technique to this.  As our tigers grow in size we feed them minced chicken mixed with milk until they can eat properley. We have charts for how often and the quantity the cubs need to be given each week as they grow older.

These cubs are not fed repeatedly by tourists as some rumors dictate.  In fact, the very youngest tigers are kept away from tourists and loud noises. If you happen to see a trainer feed one of the cubs, then you should consider yourself lucky since it does not happen very often in a day.

 

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Me and Penguin, one of the newborn cubs

 

A story of friendship

The first friend I made at Tiger Kingdom was little Penguin, a two-week cub with very poor vision. She was the only one who survived her litter, but she was too small to be put together with other older cubs.

In the beginning, I’d spend hours sitting in her cage while she slept in my lap or tried to pull at my jeans. She might not have been able to see, but with her accurate hearing and perfect sense of smell, she could still recognize me easily.

 

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My friend, a photographer at Tiger Kingdom

 

 

There is a certain sound big cats emit when they are being friendly. It is a sort of “Hello, we’re friends” and it sounds like a “BOOF. We would then “BOOF” right back and then both tiger and human knew that it is safe to approach. This sort of hello is said to each tiger every single morning before the park opened to the public.

As the trainers were teaching me how to handle and approach the tigers, this was my first lesson. Always give each tiger a proper good morning at the start of the day. From 11:00 I spent almost all my time inside the tiger enclosure with the medium and large tigers. My favorites were the biggest one, and especially a fellow named Sailom (wind).

He had a “I don’t care” kind of swag.

 

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Sailom showing off his 250kg swag

 

 

A lot of time was spent accompanying tourists in the enclosures and making sure they were constantly watched. But when I had a moment to myself I’d cuddle up to Sailom, and we’d lie in the burning sun together dozing. And I will forever miss those moments.  

 

She came running full force, and threw herself at me.

 

My most precious memory from that time was being away from the park for two weeks without seeing my Penguin. During this time she had been moved into the enclosure with the smallest tigers where tourists could meet her.  Her vision had still not improved, but she had doubled in size from when I first saw her.

I entered the enclosure and “BOOFED at her. She came running full force, and threw herself at me in a hug and buried her nose in my neck and hair. She then decided it was playtime, but that’s another story.

 

The rumors

It starts with some careless unknowledgeable words from someone on the internet. Someone reads these words as the absolute truth and it is then spread in the digital world. Once something is up on the internet, it won’t come back down.  That is how a rumor starts online, and that is how the rumor about drugged tigers at Tiger Kingdom started. Through rushed words without any real knowledge, years later and the park is still trying to fight off these rumors.

We have a choice of who we want to be when we are online, too many people choose stupid. Please confirm your facts before you spread them as the absolute truth, and don’t expect everything you hear and read on the internet to be true.

 

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A tiger who successfully snatched a toy

 

 

How can you be sure there aren’t drugged?

I spent my first five days at Tiger Kingdom together with the veterinarian of the park. He is in charge of food rations, nutrition supplements, the animals’ general health and the cubs and their well-being. 

During my entire stay at Tiger Kingdom, I would arrive before opening hours and leave after closing time with all the employees.  I spent a lot of time in the veterinarian’s clinic, I was there for feeding time both for the cubs and the adult tigers and I spent most of my time in the cages with the tigers themselves.

First of all; The tigers are fed early morning (sunrise) and at the end of the day when the tourists leave (sundown). It is impossible to “sneak” the tigers drugs unnoticed in the middle of the day, and there is no drug that would last an entire day.

Second of all; Putting aside the fact that there is no drug that would be effective for 12 hours straight, it is also dangerous to drug these animals. It could potentially make them drowsy and unaware of their surroundings, and thereby dangerous. But also, whenever a tiger needs treatment, it must be sedated for safety reasons. It is not safe for the tiger to be sedated for more than one hour without risk to its life.

Why are they so docile?

All the tigers the tourists can visit are born at the park and raised by the trainers. Already as cubs they get used to being cleaned and fed and taken care of. Tigers at Tiger Kingdom learn to expect cuddles and playing.  In short, they are very big kittens that grow up to weigh around 200 kg. When a trainer walks into a tiger enclosure the tigers will often approach him to get petted and scratched. All the tigers at the park appreciate a good tummy rub.

 

They have learned to expect cuddles and playing.

 

The fact that they are lazy and sleep most of the day help a great deal when tourists pet and take pictures with these animals. When the tigers are awake and in the mood for play, it limits how close you as a visitor can get to these animals, and yet many tourists aren’t happy with a sleeping tiger even when it means they can lie down next to it and hug it.

They are raised as pets, and the staff tend to think of them a little as overgrown house cats. They are however fully aware of these animals’ nature and that they should never fully trust them. After all, they may not be wild in its proper meaning, but they are by no means domesticated.

 

Where are all the other tigers?

In Thailand it is against the law to buy or sell tigers. Therefore all the tigers at both Tiger Temple and Tiger Kingdom have to stay within the company. Tiger Kingdom sometimes moves tigers within their three different parks, but all tigers stay in the park for the duration of their lives.

 

  It is against the law to buy or sell tigers in Thailand.

 

As a visitor at Tiger Kingdom you have quite a few different age groups of tigers that you can visit. You might have thought about what happens to the tigers when they are no longer cubs, and why the park isn’t overrun by adult tigers.  The tigers retire from the tourist between the age of 2-3, that is because around that time they reach their full size and their hormones change. It is a precaution by the park, to ensure the visitors’ safety.

Actually, the park is overrun by tigers, which is why there are now three parks and a fourth one might be seen in a near future. The trainers still spend time with the retired tigers, and the tigers are still rotated so they get a chance to exercise. A few selected tigers are also used for breeding, but as there is a big shortage of new genes inbreeding remains a problem with endangered captivity animals.

 

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One of the tiger keepers playing with the cats

 

 

The tigers are overfed and overweight!

It is true that most captive tigers suffer from being overweigh however, it is not limited to tigers only, but all captive animals. The issue lies in trying to replicate the natural diet and surroundings which is more difficult for some species than others. 

 

Complaints about a tiger looking malnourished when it is the ideal weight is a big problem

 

One obvious problem lies in the lack of space in zoos and animal parks. They simply do not have the capacity for the amount of animals they are housing. Moreover expansion of parks and zoo's is not always possible due to government restrictions, cost etc. 

Visitors themselves and the expectations they bring with them on how a 'real tiger' is supposed to look is a real problem. Complaints about a tiger looking malnourished when it is the ideal weight are a regular occurrence as well as adoration for the chubbier and more huggable tigers. 

Like most animal parks Tiger Kingdom has a certain amount of land that they are allowed to use. Currently they are at maximum capcity, most of the space is used for tiger enclosures, not for superficial purposes. However, it is still not enough. They are looking into opening another park which would host the older tigers that guests cannot visit or touch.  

In the meantime, the trainers do their best to keep the animals stimulated. You might have seen pictures where a member of staff is holding up a long stick with a big leaf dangling at the end of it. Some have said that this is abuse. But, in reality, this is actually a giant version of a house cat’s toy. It lets the tigers chase after it, as in if they were chasing a prey.

If you are lucky with the timing of your visit, you might see the tigers wrestling in the pools. A lot of people think that these big cats hate water, but at Tiger Kingdom they use the pools to cool down in when the day is at its hottest. You can also see the tigers doing a splash-about wrestling game when they are feeling particularly playful, which tends to happen more often with the younger ones.

 

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Vicky the newborn cub - named after myself 🙂

 

The cubs are separated from their mothers as babies!

The cubs are indeed often separated from their mothers when they are newly born, this is for several reasons.

A big problem among captive animals is that the mothers do not know how to take care of their young, especially first-time mothers. Some mothers have no interest in their young and because of these reasons many cubs would’ve died unless humans intervened. The health of the cub is also an issue since the veterinary cannot properly check the cub while it is together with its mother.

 

Captive animals do not always know how to take care of their young, especially first-time mothers.

 

It is also a fact that the younger an animal is, the stronger bonds it will create with its caretaker. By being in the hands of humans, the animal will learn to trust and build a relationship with this person. This, however, is not the reason why cubs are separated from their mothers, but it helps to explain the animals’ close relationship with the trainers.

Each tiger has its own personality, some are friendlier than others, some more trustworthy and some are downright naughty. Just like any person, they are each unique.

 

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Playing with a stolen toy from the trainer

 

They are wild animals - stop treating them as house cats!

Yes, I do believe these animals belong in the wild. But I am not naive, in the world we have created there is no space for these animals to go. Is a field of green surrounded by roads really the wild? Isn’t it really just another form of a cage?

 
A captive animal cannot be introduced into the wild without high costs and big time commitments.

 

The truth is, a captive animal cannot be introduced into the wild without high costs and big time commitments, and even then their survival is not guaranteed. Even if there was a program to introduce these animals into the wild, where would they go? Where would they be safe from poachers and from each other? You cannot put just any tigers together and expect them to get along.

As far as I’m concerned, people are the ones who should be watching animals from within bars. But today that is not always possible, so then at least I feel like we should give these animals as much freedom as we possibly can within a cage.

Give them life quality. That is not an assignment, it’s an ongoing project.

 

 

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Give us your comments!

How was your visit at Tiger Kingdom?

 

 

 

34 Responses

  1. Thon
    |

    Thanks Vicky

    Well said

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
      |

      Thank you for reading Thon. Sorry for the very delayed response. We’re back in business here on the website and we will be back in Thailand to share more stories in April. But for now please stay with us to read about travel advice and the secret spots in Japan. Our newsletter will be going out shortly. Best Regards, Vicky.

  2. Paul goudie and family
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    Well written Vicky
    I can speak with first hand noledge that these tigers at T/Kim are well loved by all staff and taken care of better than a lot of zoo’s
    I am a victim of an unfortunate accident back in 2014
    and know nearly all the staff and owner very well. Any fb or news to degrade tiger kingdom are pure bullshit, az i stated i am speaking from experience
    I have been back there to visit my friends who are like family and to see my old sparing partner and have been privileged enough to spend time with 60 day old cubs along with family and there children. At all times the number one priority to staff is the animals.
    EXCELLENT TOURIST ATTRACTION
    YOU WILL NOT B DISAPPOINTED.
    See with your eyes listen with your own ears and ask questions! Best wishes too all my exstended tiger kimdom family love you all miss you all see you soon.😊

    • Vicky Taylor
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      Thank you Paul for your kind words. It makes me happy to hear that more people have had great experiences at Tiger Kingdom, and that they know that the animals are treated well. However, I did not write this to promote the park as a tourist attraction. I wrote it to clear up at least part of all the incorrect information circling the internet. All the best to you Paul!

  3. Mr. Wynn
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    Dear Vicky Taylor,

    Greeting! from Tiger Kingdom. I am Wynn as a General Manager at Tiger Kingdom in Phuket branch. On behalf of Tiger Kingdom we would like to express sincere thanks and appreciation to you, regarding what you have written your great learning voluntary experience during working at our Chiang Mai branch on your travel website.

    It is important and authentic communication voice, particularly on social media network, from customer sides rather than we are trying to explain to public by our own voice. We really appreciated on your helping us sharing the fact of knowledge and information about Tigers nature as well as the way how we treat and care for their welfare.

    With this concern I therefore would like to ask for your kind consent to let us put your link on our website: http://www.tigerkingdom.com or perhaps print all your pages posing on our welcome board just purpose for our customers to get more information and understanding?

    For your next available holiday please come to visit our Tiger Kingdom in Thailand again at any time.

    Yours sincerely,

    Wynn.

    • Vicky Taylor
      |

      Thank you Mr. Wynn for your words. I did learn a lot from my time at Tiger Kingdom, and in the future I wish to work with wild animals and endangered animals. I absolutely give my consent to both linking this post and printing the post. It is important for me as well to spread this message, many tourists were very rude both to me and to the staff during my time with you because they would not believe that the tigers were not drugged. I hope more people get a chance to read this. And I will absolutely visit in the future, there are a lot of familiar faces waiting for me. Thank you, and please keep doing a great job! 🙂

  4. Eric Craik
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    Excellent piece of writing. I have visited Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai and I can vouch for the fact that the animals are looked after by their handlers. You can see the bond between handler and tiger. I know there are many people who are against zoos and circuses, sometimes for the right reasons. I can say that in my visits to Tiger Kingdom I never saw any tigers being forced to perform for the visitors. Everything was done on the tiger’s terms, as it should be. I have never visited Tiger Temple, but I have heard first hand reports that were very negative, so I did not go. Tiger Kingdom on the other hand is an excellent place to visit and I would encourage everyone to give it a go.

    • Vicky Taylor
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      Thank you very much Eric for reading, and thank you for your comment. I am happy to hear that more people have left the park with a good impression.

  5. wayne owen
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    good place the tigers seem all happy

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
      |

      Thank you for reading, and please keep following us. Our newsletter will be going out shortly and we will be back in Thailand this spring. Best Regards, Vicky.

  6. Blanchard
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    I totally approved your feedback. Thank your for sharing the truth. You found the right words to say !
    I had a wonderful time with the tigers at Chiang Mai Tiger Temple. Thank you for making their life better.

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
      |

      Thank you very much for your comment, and thank you for reading. Since my previous visit, they have now opened a new park for the retired tigers. I will be back in Thailand this spring to follow up on my article. Please keep following us, our newsletter will be going out shortly. Best Regards, Vicky

  7. Jo. U.K.
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    One of the best experiences of my life I went twice in one week, an between the time I went the pool was totally cleaned out which I was very impressed with.
    I loved the naughtiness of one id the smallest tigers who bit my tshirt.
    My father passed away while I was in Thailand an if it wasn’t for visiting these tigers I think it would hold completely different memories for me.
    I would love to visit again one day.

    • Vicky Taylor
      |

      Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Thailand is more than just “a country” to me, it makes me happy to hear about your experience.

  8. Sian To
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    I visited Tiger Kingdom in Phuket two years ago. As a cat loving family we loved it and will definitely be go back when we return to Phuket later this month. Here are some pics from our last visit https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/103692852073756265923/albums/6025849997632970321

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
      |

      Hi Sian, thank you for sharing your story with us! 🙂

  9. Helen Powell
    |

    From what I have read it sounds like we were the luckiest people to visit Tiger Kingdom, Chiang Mai….we were there 4 years ago and had the best experience…….after booking our trip to Thailand which was a week in Bangkok and a week in Phuket we started looking at what we wanted to do, I had been told about the Monks and their Tigers but when I started researching it I very quickly realised that unless you were prepared to spend a large amount of money the only experience you could do was have a photo taken with a chained Tiger…….when I discovered Tiger Kingdom we actually left the hotel we were staying at to fly to Chiang Mai, book a nights accomodation and fly back to Bangkok and it worked out cheaper than to do the Tiger encounters with the monks.
    We have cats at home so when we planned out trip to Tiger Kingdom we expected them to be cats and also expected them to behave like cats, just bigger versions…..we organised to get there for when the park opened and we were amazed at the service we received from the minute we walked in, we wanted to do all the encloses and had already read online about the photographer for each enclosed, to our surprise we were offered a discount because we chose to do all the encloses, we actually felt a little guilty because it was so cheap to start with, our first experience was with the smallest cubs, there were 4 cubs and at one stage we were lying on the floor with all the Cubs crawling over us, the next enclose we had 4 Cubs that were about 6 -8 months old and were behaving like kittens and were wrestling ( for the not so nice people who are saying that the tigers are drugged, no way would they be playing the way they do if they were) the second last enclosed had cats that were around 12 – 18 months old and were playing in the pool with the handlers on the outside with the giant cat toys, this was prob the best experience, these powerful cats jumping up to 6 feet above the water chasing the toys, we were also lucky enough that after being in the enclosures we were told we could spend as much time as we wanted to just wondering around the park so we had something to eat and when we went back to the smallest Cubs enclosed just to watch them and there was a handler bottle feeding the Cubs….we then picked up our photo’s and between all the enclosures they took over 300 of them…..the whole day cost us $114 australian( remember it was 4 years ago) I visited the gift shop and walked away with 2 bags of souvenirs which included 2 t-shirts, coasters, key rings, photo frames and a stuffed toy and got change from 1000 baht(less than $30 Australian) we have since been to the new Tiger Kingdom at Phuket, that was about 2 years ago, during our visit we were talking to the handler of the largest Tigers and he told us he came from Chiang Mai with the Tigers when they were moved, he also told us he has been their handler since they were young Cubs so we think they may have been the same 4 cats that wer saw 2 years earlier….it’s the best place to visit, they are well cared for and certainly not drugged, I giggled when I read that some of the Tigers seem fat and overweight, we went to the zoo here in Sydney about 6 months or so after returning from Thailand and the Tigers here seem skinny compared to the ones over there

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
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      Helen, thank you for sharing your experience. Yes, it was most likely the same tigers you met 4 years earlier. They just end up moving enclosure when they grow bigger.

  10. Phonphawit Ton-od
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    Very impressive for me.

  11. Adrian Fleur
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    Excellent post. Exactly what I have been repeating to people countless times when they accuse me of supporting animal abuse by supporting Tiger Kingdom. I am the biggest animal advocate I know, and I firmly stand by the work Tiger Kingdom does. Thanks for this eye-opening post. You can read mine here if you like: http://marketofeden.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/a-visit-to-tiger-kingdom.html

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
      |

      Thank you for reading. I had a look at your blog post, and the “snarly” face that you mention is actually the face tigers make when they smell something funny (for example another tiger’s urine.) 😉

  12. […] allegedly cruel cycle. The Tiger Kingdom is definitely a controversial place but also after reading this blog upon my return, I feel a little better about the decision I made.  The answer is I don’t […]

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
      |

      Hi,
      Thank you for your message! I read your blog post too. Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂

  13. Anne
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    Hey there!!

    Just to let you know, I loved your post, recently went to Tiger Kingdom branch in Phuket and had a really great time. I wrote a post on my blog about the whole experience and the ongoing debate about “tiger farms” I mentioned you in the end and put a link up to your blog 🙂 ! Just so you know, I already saw that people clicked through, now you know where the referrals are coming from! GREAT WORK 🙂 Cheers!

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
      |

      Hi Anne,
      Thank you very much, both for your comment and the link. I’m happy you enjoyed your time there! 🙂 Happy travels!

  14. crissie tiger
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    Vicky. while I do believe your heart is in the right place. Why are they breeding tigers if there are already so many that you have to have 4 parks?! stop breeding the tigers, let the rest live out their days in peace. This place isn’t recognised by any breeding programmes, i doubt gives anything to any form of conservation project that is actually ensuring conservation of tigers and their prey and habitat in the wild. crissie

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
      |

      Hi Crissie,
      Thank you for your comment. I apologise it has taken us this long to get back to you. I have has some health issues. There are very few wild tigers left in Thailand, and in the world. We have created a world today where there is no space for tigers, they have no habitat left and they are being hunted down. If there were no captive tigers, we might see the end of these beautiful animals. The sad thing is that it is the cubs and baby animals – in all zoos and parks that attract the most visitors, and makes it possible to keep these animals in the first place. Please don’t forget that the purpose of captive animals was originally to help us learn about them. It breaks my heart to see how little is done to preserve these animals – I will be returning to Thailand in April and I will be trying to get an interview with the wildlife conservation in Thailand to see what is actually being done as well as follow up with Tiger Kingdom, and their new park for retired tigers. Please keep following us. Our newsletter will start going out shortly. Best Regards, Vicky

  15. […] lived and worked with Tiger Kingdom during her time at the branch in Chang Mai, find her story HERE. She will answer almost all the questions you could have about this place in her […]

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
      |

      Sorry this reply is coming so late, but I wanted to say thank you for your comment and link. It makes me happy that we are balancing out all the incorrect information out there. 🙂

  16. Hannah
    |

    Hi Vicky,

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I’m a huge animal lover and to go visit a tiger up close and personal would be a dream! I’m visiting Phuket in April and have been so double minded about whether to visit or not. There are so many horror stories online and I’ve just been so double minded as the last thing I would want to contribute to is the mis-treating of these beautiful creatures. Your experience is really reassuring that this is not the case in Tiger Kingdom. I’ve also read so many stories about elephant trekking in Thailand and how horrible this is. I would still love to go see the elephants and have been researching online and came across Elephant Jungle Sanctuary which does not promote riding or abuse. Is this something you know of or would be able to share some advice on?

    Thanks again,
    Han

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
      |

      Hi Hannah,
      Thank you very much for your kind comment. I’m actually planning to re-visit Tiger Kingdom in a few months. I’ll be posting a follow-up article and video so keep your eyes open for that. 🙂

      Regarding the elephants, this is a bit of a problem. For elephants to be ‘safe’ around people (not attack them), then need to be ‘broken in’, this is a kind of abuse. This means that the babies are separated from the mothers when they are very young. This is a very awful experience for both the mother and child. This is the only way to ensure the safety of people. So the elephants you see in Sanctuaries etc. have all been broken in. I visited an elephant park in Chiang Mai but learned quickly that these elephants were used to make money on treks and performing. If the elephants are made to perform, trek or paint – then I feel like it’s not a real sanctuary. However, having said all of this, it’s important for the elephants that have been rescued from abuse to go somewhere to live out their days. I had a look at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, and to me that looks like a good place to visit. They are very good with information about elephants and what is considered abuse. I would personally like to visit this Sanctuary. Good luck there, and please keep me updated! Vicky

  17. Mike
    |

    Thank you for this. Unfortunately I heard that they were drugged and I believed it for a long time. I understand now that is not true. Since these parks get very busy with tourists, which park do you think would be better to visit, the one in chiang mai or phuket?

    • Profile photo of Vicky Taylor
      Vicky Taylor
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      Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comment. I personally recommend the park in Chiang Mai. The staff is friendly, and they have lion cubs now! These cubs are from a private zoo in Thailand. I also recommend going early so you’re there when they open to avoid crowds. Keep your eyes open for my follow-up article about Tiger Kingdom. (3 years later) It will be online in about one week. 🙂 Enjoy and let us know how your visit was!