08.02.2013 - 08.02.2013 38 °C
After the elephant ride last night, Liam woke up walking like John Wayne. The usual morning clean-up was slightly more eventful as we tried to clean out the macaque, Junior’s, cage. It had been renovated over two weeks ago but once the monkey has been locked in the holding cage for the first time for so long we leave it at least 14 days before going back in, so as not to over stress him. Liam lured him in the back cage with food and then pulled the door leading to his main enclosure shut; unfortunately Junior can open the door from the inside so after a scream it was open again.
We decided to leave it for the day as he cottoned on to what we were trying to do and would not take the bribes. Then he let his guard down when we were not looking and we took our chance, we closed him in the back and this time held on to the door as he tried to open it. We secured it with rope and a couple of the guys jumped in for a quick clean and a repair to the tree that is in there. It should be fun in the morning when we have to it all again.
We then got the chance to walk the tiger cubs together, the first time that we have actually done it together. They were well behaved for once and did not need that much persuasion. Thankfully an enclosure has been built for them by the leopard cubs so they are no longer just tied up on the leads. They are much happier but you also have to have your guard up when you are in the enclosure.
We spent the whole day together again at the cubs, it never gets old, but today has not necessarily been a good day. We had a tourist who wanted to feed the tiger cubs but we had fed them 10 minutes before she arrived so we would not do it again, as it is not right to pump them full of milk just so the tourists can feed them. She was not happy but we explained it was an animal and not just a toy to feed and said come back in an hour and a half and they should be due another feed. She came back slightly earlier and the cubs were not hungry so we managed to compromise and told her she could bottle feed them water. Liam explained the usual to her that they do bite and probably will bite but as much as it hurts it isn’t too bad, just leaves you with a scratch. She followed him in the enclosure so that he could get them under control, but the woman did not shut the door behind her so the female tiger took her chance and darted out the door, luckily Liam caught her, and after a tussle got her back inside. This though obviously angered the female because when Liam turned his back to show the woman how to bottle feed the male tiger cub so he would sit there nice for photographs the female decided to bite his leg. Liam turned back round to get her off his leg and at this point the male took his chance and bit the woman. Both of us have had our fair share of bites from the cubs and we now how much it hurts but to say she over reacted is an understatement! She screamed and before Liam could do anything she bolted the fence of the enclosure and started shouting at us, ‘you did not watch him’; ‘he is a danger’. It was ridiculous and it took a lot of effort to not laugh at her but we remained calm and explained that it is safe and not a problem. We told her that she knew the risk and that it is a tiger not a pet dog. If someone walks into the enclosure who is not calm and kind the cubs will immediately pick up on it. They even know when people are nervous and test them by trying to dominate. Her bite was just a scratch; just the tiger cub playing with her but she was shaking and crying while Chelsea put a plaster on her leg. People were watching her in the enclosure, Liam has put a lot of work into being able to handle both the cubs so a customer can have a good experience but this customer was the worst kind, she had no feelings about the animal or it’s welfare, she just wanted a nice picture feeding a tiger cub. We are working hard with the park to bring in tourists who want to benefit the park and who pay to feed the cubs to contribute to the good work we do and this customer is exactly the type we are trying to replace.
Thankfully there were no more customers so we could get on with other things. Liam has been researching designs and ideas for the new tiger enclosure we hope to build and we also managed to get a concrete bowl they use for feeding the giraffes down by the cubs so the tigers can use it as a swimming pool with the tourist and also to cool off as it is getting to nearly 40 degrees in the afternoons now.
The evening monkey feed passed without a problem and then we went to English class. There was not so much of a turn out today, only around 10 kids but it turned out to be a good one. We learned some more adjectives and shapes today and practiced these by describing animals. We were able to teach them more words in a smaller group and make sure that everyone understood. The kids seem to love us and since we split them into teams a couple of lessons ago there is always now a ‘Team Liam’ and a ‘Team Chelsea’ and the kids argue amongst themselves who’s team they want to be in. There are two that are significantly better than the rest so we split them up into the teams as they really help teach the others, at one point today these two were more or less taking the class which was great as it helps their English get to a more advanced level. We think that leaving the English class will be by far the hardest part when we finally move on from the safari. We have taken a real shine to the group.
Two new volunteers arrived today, one is apparently an expert on big cats and has worked with them a lot before so we hope that we can learn off her more about the cubs and she can make some really big progress with the big tigers.