So, in Thailand they don't necessarily have the same rules about animals as the do in the US. While we were specifically told not to feed the monkeys (and yet watched other tourists do it while I was busy running AWAY from said monkey blocking my trail so he wouldn't bite my face... ok, he never made an attempt to bite my face, but I wasn't taking any chances,) it apparently is perfectly acceptable to pet tigers and ride elephants, as long as you pay the appropriate fee. Which we did, although since a tiger mauled a tourist two weeks after we left Thailand, I don't think we'll be doing that again any time soon. At least I won't be - Eric was much more at ease in the tiger sanctuary than I was.
The tiger sanctuary has "baby," "small," "medium," and "large" tiger pens you can choose from to go in, pet the tiger, have your photo taken, and basically try not to wet your pants. You have a "guide" that goes with you, who is there to "protect" you with something that looks akin to a twig and his wits, which really get called into question when you realize that he voluntarily goes into a tiger pens multiple times a day. Your guide tells you how to pet the tiger (from behind, firmly), and then takes your photo while telling you to pick up the tiger's tail (I am serious when I tell you I told the guide that I didn't think the tiger WANTED me to pick up its tail.) The tigers are neither drugged nor chained... they are however, large cats, and sleep 22 hours a day, so as long as you don't wake them, you "should" be ok. Until they wake up on their own, get in a group of three, and then start playing rather aggressively, at which time the guide tells you it is time to go.
|Gorgeous. And scary as all get out. This is a "large" tiger. We did NOT go in that pen.|
|Eric with what was billed as a "small" tiger. Slightly different than advertised... I was thinking size of a large stuffed animal, not this.|
|Let sleeping tigers lie.|
|If you can't read my face, it says "I cannot believe I am petting a tiger. This can't be a good idea."|
|Posing because the guide said so... and considering he was the only one with a twig... er, stick, I was going to do whatever he said. |
|When the tigers started batting each other around to get the big stick, it was time to go. |
We also went to an elephant sanctuary, where we got to know some white elephants, fed them, made friends, watched them paint (no kidding! The trainers lead them, but the elephants can manipulate paint brushes!), and then rode on one.
|Eric feeding a very insistent elephant sugar cane.|
|The sweetest, cutest little guys!|
|Elephant kisses are slimy. |
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