06.05.2013 - 10.05.2013 45 °C
This last week has been a very good week, we (the volunteers) have had one of our biggest achievements since the programme was set up and we have also attended the evening party of a Thai wedding…
Chelsea has spent the whole week working with the cubs. Tat the tiger has improved tenfold due to the work Chelsea has done and the fact she has been consistently with her every day. We are pushing to improve the enclosures, both night time, and day time as they are currently way too small. We have also for the first time in a long time being able to out a big log in with Tat to give her something to play with. We are winning little battles like this every day. It does become slightly frustrating that simple things take a while to be achieved but it is always worth it. The training is incredible, Chelsea can now give two commands; ‘calm,’ Tat will lay down and wait for a treat, and ‘come here’ Tat will approach her at a safe pace for a treat. This has just been achieved in the last few days and we now need to decide where to take the training. She is extremely tame with Chelsea, Chelsea can lay with her head on her belly, she can get prints of her paw and quite often when Chelsea sits in the cage she will get up and lay next to her. Spending time with her everyday has made a big difference to her behaviour. She really enjoys company and wants to please which is nice. Chelsea today even took new volunteers inside and she was fine with been stroked by them which is a massive deal as she is very afraid of new people.
As of a week or so ago we also now have a lion cub at safari. The other day we were walking through the area that it is cared for in and Chelsea was allowed to feed it. Already it is bigger than leopard cubs that were born three weeks ago. It is incredibly cute and very fluffy. We have been told it is a female and we cannot wait to work with her.
Liam has had a more varied week. He has been odd job man and errand boy for the more skilled builders we currently have, this mainly involves carrying all the heavy stuff and trying not to get in anyone’s way, and he has had a few afternoons and a full day on cubs with Chelsea. He has spent more time with Latte than normal due to the excellent work Chelsea is doing. Liam has been playing with Latte and winding her up until she gets really hyper and Chelsea tells him off, he can’t help it though as she is so much fun. He has a few bites and scratches though so he is starting to learn his lesson.
The two of us have also had our first meeting with the boss of the safari park on behalf of the volunteers. As we are now staying for free we are given increased responsibilities and the meeting was great. The meeting went well and Joe, the boss, listened to our requests and we managed to get a few things cleared up.
The volunteers’ biggest achievement to date in our opinion is the story of Hang Heng. Hang Heng is a tiger that was chained to a table from around the age of 2 months. When the volunteer programme started in December last year he was 18 months old and still on the table. By this time he was sick and constantly pacing. He never got any attention because Blue was also on a table parallel to him and has he is so much bigger, therefore more popular, the Thai staff and customers always wanted Blue. We managed to get Hang Heng off the table, although a slight improvement this meant he was in a small night enclosure all day and occasionally replaced Blue when Blue was sick. This was not good enough so we asked for him to be moved to safari. This took a long time but around a month ago he was moved to safari. We thought at this point he was getting exercise and playing with other tigers on safari but we found out two weeks ago that he has never been out and has been kept in another small night enclosure. We have pushed like crazy to get him out, and the staff had several excuses but this week we finally got him out. He originally went out Monday and we saw him briefly through the fence, on Tuesday the boss took us all on safari to see him proper. It was so amazing to see him out in a large open enclosure, he was walking around covered in mud where he had been in the water sitting with the other tigers. When we appeared he approached the bus chuffing and looked really happy. It so good to know we have improved just one animals life so drastically, even if it has taken a lot longer than it should. It has given the whole team a real boost. Next stage is Blue.
For the last two weeks we have also been doing the English lessons on or own rather than with Danni and Adam as they have been away. We have loved it, and the kids must have too because the usual numbers of 1-4 kids since we came back from Myanmar, have increased to 14 which we had on Wednesday, We taught them the five senses and had different things for them to touch, taste and smell. At the end we blindfolded them and made them feel the objects and then say the appropriate sense. This was until Liam had a go and the kids went crazy, poking him and hitting him with the objects while he was blindfolded. Chelsea even joined in.
Friday night we attended the evening party of a Thai wedding, We know the guy has he rents us our bikes. It was a really strange party. It was quite traditional but very informal, there was a stage and there were several singers and a pair of comedians (we think they were comedians but we could not understand them). There was a free meal which consisted of 8 courses, and free drinks including whisky. It was great fun and the food was amazing although randomly the entertainment changed slightly towards the end of the night where a Thai girl just came on stage wearing less and less clothes for each song until the end she was just in her underwear, it must have been part of the act because the Thai guests did not seem to think anything was out of the ordinary. As with any Thai party it was open mic so there were several drunken attempts made to sing by locals. After the party we went back to Kanchanaburi and stayed out for a couple more drinks before collapsing into our £4 a night room to get some sleep before being up at six to drive 27km back to safari park.
This week has been a lot of fun and Hang Heng for us is by far the highlight of our whole time here. Our Thai visa runs out on May 17th so next week were are having off and going to Laos. We are only going to spend a few days there relaxing and getting a new visa then coming back to safari.