02.02.2013 - 02.02.2013
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Slightly different start to the day today as Chelsea had to come with the rest of volunteers to clean the monkeys as we were slightly under staffed. She missed her giraffes and will be glad to return tomorrow.
The whole day for us was spent with the cubs again, we have been given the responsibility everyday it seems, Liam the tigers and Chelsea the leopards and as you can probably tell we love every minute of it. Today was more hard work than usual as Blue the tiger has got a bad leg he has been allowed a day off, but that means they have got another tiger out, Hang Heng, who is not as calm as Blue. He is younger and wants to play but that makes him dangerous, the customers were oblivious but we were on edge all day as he paces and swipes and snarls.
It seems so were the cubs as they were a handful, the leopards were in the caged area and the tigers were on leads outside so customers could walk them if they wanted. The cubs hate the leads, and so do we so we can’t wait until we get the second caged area to put them in. The female tiger has been really unhappy, constantly snarling at Liam if approached, and running away startled if he got too close. She is difficult but Liam is determined to bond with her and get her onside. Despite her mood today she did not bite Liam; it was the male, who managed to get three bites to the leg in when Liam was distracted. Luckily the damage for now is a few scratches.
The most difficult part of the cubs is the tourists, in a morning there are none, but in an afternoon they can swarm the cubs and they freak out. The tourists do not listen to what we have to say, they will climb over barriers and try to get into the pen without paying. This one woman today had a baby strapped to her chest and still went up close to the tiger cubs and bent down for a close up photo. She had not paid and was not allowed into that area. They are ignorant to what damage the cubs can do and think because they are in with us they cannot do any damage, it is infuriating and dangerous not just for us but for the cubs when they don’t listen. The baby leopards bit, scratch and play fight quite roughly with each other and us so the tourists think they can be rough back but they are extremely fragile. Their bones can break so easily and we were fed up of saying be careful and please don’t pick them up by the end of the day.
The female tiger became really unhappy as the day went on, Liam tried to walk her but she was really nervous. The male on the other hand was for the most part happy. We got him a bowl of water and he kept splashing himself with it to cool down which was cute, Liam then splashed him and they were playing with the water until the cub became over excited and tried to bite him again. They are really hard to discipline as at the end of the day they are not meant to be trained or hand raised by humans, but we are getting there. When the female had finally had enough we swapped them over with the leopards so they could run around the caged area and she finally calmed down and let Liam stroke her.
The monkey evening feed was more dramatic than usual, as one of the monkeys, Trouble, had a poisonous giant centipede in his cage. The monkey started to squeal and directed us to the centipede. It was the first we have seen one although we have been warned about them. They are massive, at least 20cm an blood red, we killed it immediately as one bite from that and it would have been a trip to the hospital for us and death for poor Trouble. They take some killing though, and are still dangerous after death. We would not like to find one in our room as they are purely evil.
When we had done for the day Ned and Tat the organisers of the volunteer programme asked us if we would look after the cubs again tomorrow as they feel they can trust us with them and we chatted about ideas about what to do until we get a new enclosure for the cubs. It is a real compliment for us to be trusted with the cubs and nice that Ned and Tat want us to make a bond with them. Obviously we were really excited about the prospect of this responsibility.
There was no English lesson tonight and as much as we love it we are glad for the rest, we played the longest game of Uno ever in our common room before retiring shattered to our room. Every day with the cubs we are getting better with them and we are hoping to learn as much as we can about them whilst we are here. They still bite and it does hurt, and they are only getting bigger and stronger but it is really fun. We have paid for a second week here as we are enjoying so much, that will take us to 7/2/13, and we will see how we feel then. We have until end of February before going to Myanmar and anything of Thailand we miss before then we can visit after that so we have plenty of time.