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Published: September 25th 2012
Buddhist monks in Thailand only eat one meal a day - in the morning. The monks walk from their temples to the nearby villages and cities where the locals offer them food in exchange for a blessing. The monks then walk back to the temple for breakfast. At Tiger Temple, our first task was to greet the monks on their way back from the village and offer them food in exchange for their blessing. We were very lucky, as the head monk was actually present. He is often very busy and jets around the world - he had recently returned from two months in the US.
Next up is feeding the young Tigers while the monks say prayers. The tigers are between 6 months and 18months and already are pretty big! They drink milk, and some of the buddhist monks were giving them hard boiled eggs. In addition to this, Tiger Temple has had a recent arrival, so we got to play a little bit with a 1month old tiger cub.
Once prayers and breakfast is over, we walked the tigers over to a play area - or really, the tigers walked us! When the tiger stops, you stop,
and if the tiger runs - YOU LET GO! Even when young, they are incredibly strong - and playful! While walking the tigers we are 'strongly' advised never to get past a tiger's shoulder as when they see someone new, they want to go say hello 'tiger style' which means playful biting. The handlers walk ahead of each tiger, and if a tiger gets a bit to interested in what's going on behind, they clap hands and shout to get the tigers attention.
When we reach the play pen, it's time to wash the tigers. We dutifully give them a good shampoo, carefully avoiding the sharp end! The tigers are then fed some cooked chicken. This is pretty much the only thing the adult tigers eat. They must get through a mountain of chicken. We then follow the young tigers into the play pen and are handed long sticks with plastic bags on the end. Basically big cat toys! We played with the tigers for a while, though I think Tahnee and I got dud toys as others seemed to be having much more luck attracting leaping tigers. Some girls furthur along from us were having particular 'luck' in
tigers pouncing right next to them, which caused much shreiking and shouting. The tigers were completely oblivious and were only interested in the colourful bags.
After playtime for the young tigers, it's time to exercise the adult tigers. To start with, there were two huge tigers chained outside the young tiger play pen for us to get pictures with. AFter that, we walked the two big tigers in a group, taking turns. These guys are BIG!
The adult tigers are exercised in a canyon with a little pool. We walk the big tigers down, they clearly know the route well. They have a bit of a scratch on some of the trees and we head down to join some of their friends in the canyon. When we get there there are other large tigers chained up sunning themselves. We make our way into a cage near the pool. All the tourists and the volunteer staff are inside the cage, the local handlers are all outside - brave! At this point the handlers release all the big tigers and they all come running in. One of the handlers has a big tattoo of a tiger across his chest. His
imaginative nickname is Tiger Man because of his love for the tigers. Tiger man and another handler try to coax the tigers into the water so they can bathe a little, but the tigers are a little bit reluctant to get in the cold water at first, but eventually they are all in and the fun begins.
The two handlers use the same sort of tiger toy sticks that we did in order to get the tigers to exercise and play together. The sight was awesome to behold, but I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves (We got video too 😊 ).
This was the last part of the Tiger Temple, but there was more to come on this tour. Elephants, Monkeys and Thai food to come.
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