01.02.2013 - 01.02.2013
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Today has been a day of good and bad.
This morning we went through our usual routine. Chelsea went to giraffes and took someone new and Liam went to moneys with the rest of the volunteers. Trouser’s loves his new enclosure and some of his obsessive behaviour has already stopped. At 9am Chelsea and a volunteer called mike had the job of taking the baby tiger cubs for a walk. It is a bizarre experience walking tigers on leads but it is good exercise for them and they really enjoy being out and wandering around. It takes a while to get them going as they want to play, sleep and go in the opposite direction. Tat, the female tiger walked a little faster than Ned, the male and when she realised her brother was missing she cried the whole way there and hissed at Chelsea.
After yesterday with the two sets of cubs and only one enclosure we had to speak to the owners of the park and make sure they knew the urgency of a new enclosure for the new cubs as it is not fair to keep swapping them from tiny cages when customers want to play with them. Me and Liam were on cub duty again (its such a hard life) and when we got down there both sets of cubs were in their small cages with only one enclosure. The owner decided to keep the tigers on long leads and tie them up so they could wander around and put the baby leopards in the enclosure. This was ok for a few hours but the female tiger doesn’t like the lead and started to get really stressed and cry.
We decided to swap and put the tigers in the enclosure to wander around after lunch. The female has been really scared and jumpy today and there has been lots of hissing and growling. The male though is a dream. He is like a huge soft toy, he is really placid and likes playing and to be stroked. He is Liam’s favourite animal in the whole park.
When lots of tourists arrived and crowded around the enclosure around 3pm they were really scared. We decided to let the male have a walk around as he is quite friendly and Liam sat with the female to keep her calm. The baby leopards just slept through it all. At 4pm when all the tourists went home we let the little baby leopards have a play before they went back. The leopards are chelsea’s favourite, they cuddle up like babies and walk all over her as she has been with them ever day so far. When they are in a layful mood they relentlessly bite and jump all over you which is fun but when they are sleepy they curl up and purr and it is so beautiful.
The hardest part of being on cub duty is watching Blue, the big Bengal tiger chained to the table. He mainly sleeps all day and just sits quietly and looks around but it is horrible to see such a big powerful animal act so submissive. We talk to all the customers who come to explain why we are here and promote the things we offer like the cubs and elephant trekking and explain about how we want Blue off the table and how we are working hard to improve conditions. We have feedback forms which people don’t often answer honestly so we encourage people to be honest so we can improve the lives of the animals. The owners have agreed if we can make the same amount of money as Blue earns with the tourists posing with him from our ideas then he can come off the table and be put into a big enclosure. There used to be two big Bengal tigers chained up but the volunteers have managed to get one off before we arrived.
We both left the cubs feeling a little down to be honest. When Blue got up to get into the truck to go home he kicked off a little and growled and snarled at Toy, the lady who looks after him. He has somehow hurt his back legs and was having trouble walking. Plans have started now to build the tiger cubs a brand new huge enclosure so when they are too big to be bottle fed with tourists they can live happily in a new big home. We drew it up yesterday so this should be finished in 6 weeks. The fear is that one day they could end up on the table so we need a new big enclosure to make sure that doesn’t happen.
On a good note however English class tonight was great. The children arrived early and ran down to see us feeding the monkeys. When we walked in they all shouted hello teacher. The adults asked to learn conversational skills last time so Jen and Mike (2 volunteers) sat with them and talked. For the kiddies we decided to teach them about families. We took the IPad down and showed them pictures of our family to learn them the words which they loved. We showed them the snow which they went crazy for and taught them about Halloween and showed them pictures of us dressed as clowns which they found hilarious. We then role played knocking and trick or treat and we all ate sweets. We showed them some English food and got them to repeat ‘I like pie’. They were really excited and wanted to play Tiger, Tiger, lion again (duck, duck, goose) and they enjoyed picking us and laughing at us running around while they shouted ‘you slow’. Haha. To finish they wanted to sing happy and you know it. At the end they all shout ‘Thank you teacher and goodbye’ in unison which is the cutest thing. We were packing up when all the children ran at us wanting Chelsea and Liam to write their names in their notepads and one of the mums approached us to say thank you and ask how her children were doing. It was a lovely feeling to be able to say they are doing really well.