I volunteered to do some work for the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary because I was so impressed at how amazing and selfless everyone was. They truly want what is best for their animals and any other animals they get phone calls over. To do my work I needed to learn about everything- the habitat, the people and all the animals individually.
I was like everyone else at first – the tigers are beautiful! The tigers, lions and liger all behave like my cats in some ways. They look snuggly and everyone I talk to wants to pet one…it seems so simple, but petting tigers or lions is not a safe thing.
Don’t get me wrong, these animals can be sweet and they all have their own distinct personality, but underneath the beauty and the personality they are what they have always been, predators. They are built like predators, so even if they are just playing with you their claws and their teeth can do considerable damage. It doesn’t have to be intentional. When tigers play with each other they can bite and claw their pals and nothing happens, but humans are not built the same.
Can I Pet a Tiger?
I will tell you right now that the Big Cat Habitat is not going to risk you getting hurt just to pet a tiger. There are very few staff members that go in with tigers and lions and those that do have trained tigers for a decade or more. They know tigers so well they actually think like them. More importantly, the big cats trust them. The support staff that feed and care for the tigers also have a close relationship with them, but they are not reaching their hands in and petting them. It just is not worth the risk.
Kay, her son Clayton and the entire staff are always talking about respecting the cats. As I said above, the cats know the people that take care of them, but they don’t know visitors. It would make them very uncomfortable to have random people touching them all time. People don’t like having people they don’t know come up and touch them; neither do the cats.
As beautiful as they are, it is important to keep in mind that they were created to be predators and that is what they are. They do not have to attack you to hurt you. Tigers are just too dangerous to play with. On the other hand, being able to look into their eyes is a rewarding experience and one I value deeply. If you have not had the chance to look a tiger, lion or liger in the eye I encourage you to visit the Big Cat Habitat or a safe and animal loving habitat in your local area.