I was blessed to be able to have one of the best animal encounters of my life when I was able to do the Tiger Cub Encounter at the Gulf Coast Zoo (a.k.a. “the Little Zoo that could”). The zoo currently has two six-week old bengal cubs that they allow you to actually play with for thirty minutes for a fee. What a special once-in-a-lifetime experience for animal lovers like Michelle and me. The tiger has always been my favorite!
The little white male tiger is called Mysore. The little traditional orange cub is a female named Kandy and she was my favorite because she really seemed to like me.
It was absolutely incredible to have one of these precious cubs climbing on me and playing with me. However, the best for me personally was when I fed her a bottle of warm milk. Kandy was a very good nurser and had all ten ounces down in no time. The next thing you know she was fighting to keep her eyes open as she cuddled up to a soft stuffed animal and started to take a cat nap.
This is a segment of video where the female six week bengal tiger named Kandy was playing with me while mouthing a lot. The two little cubs are teething and the animal handlers said they are encouraging them NOT to bite. She is really quite gentle, but you will see me guide her off of biting on my socks or my jeans, etc. I asked the zoo person what I should say; like “be gentle” or “no bite” and he said when they get bigger all of that “goes out the window” and a handler will most likely get scratched up in those encounters. That’s part of why they are doing so much handling at this young age. One of the zoo’s goal is to be able to handle the animals for regular exams without the need to use sedatives, yet, realizing that these are wild animals and a person can get hurt. Mutual respect is practiced here.
I was so very blessed to be able to have this encounter while I was visiting my parents who lived in the area of this zoo. There were only a very few time slots left so my daughter and I went in at different times, but the way it worked out, we were better able to witness the other person having fun and take more photos that way. : ) Plus, I discovered the cubs will actually be gone for the next couple of weeks at another zoo. So it is amazing that the timing worked out.
I talked to other zoo visitors about how it must have been like this in the garden of Eden. God had originally intended for man to live with the animals and subdue the earth. It was fun to think about. Well I can now check this special experience off of my “bucket list.”