Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai

They are the largest cat in the world. They are indisputably gorgeous. They are also killing machines capable of taking down elephants. They are now being stroked like an indolent kitty in a sunbeam. What a dream come true.

However, I was worried about how these majestic felines would be contained. I’ve heard the stories of drugging or over-punishment upon them, so research was necessary. Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai has a great system, and the animals seem happy. Some cages are still too small, and judging by their bellies, possibly over-fed for safety. But, unlike the Bangkok tiger sanctuary where the cats are kept on chains, these tigers are free to walk around (as long as it’s not in the direction of a visitor). I paid about 45US$ for the full package of tigers–smallest, small, medium and large. The smallest tigers were only 3 months old!

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Such a baby face, full of curiosity. We moved on to the small (5-6 months) and medium next.

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This tiger loved me! He showed me his belly and then started stretching his long legs and giant padded paws all over me just like domestic cats. So amazing to interact with these endangered creatures.

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This was the big girl. Our trainer said she was aggressive.

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My love for cats evinced.

Thank you tigers for making me happy. I hope you are too.

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Animals on Don Det

It’s like a floating farmyard on Don Dhet. I’ve heard it said you are never more than three feet from a cockroach; here, you are never more than three feet from a chicken. The boys cluck you awake, the babies peep beside your flip-flopped feet, the mamas stand on heavy chicken legs, watching. They walk onto balconies, into stores, and their sounds dominate. Buffaloes, bunnies, bugs, geckos, spiders, a wonderfully spiritual amount of butterflies and moths, pigs, cats, dogs, ducks, geese and the innumerable fish of the Mekong inhabit this 10 sq. km. island.

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Laziness runs rampant among the mutts.

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They ate some of my Pringles.

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An old lady starting calling for the birds, “PeepPeepPeepPeepPeep.” They cautiously walked past me.

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They seemed so happy in their dirt pool.

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If you look in the middle, you can see a fat heart; maybe it’s just a love fight.

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They were chasing each other. Dog looks to be having fun, cat is pissed.

Ants are also very present. The big black ones who mind their own business, the small red or black ones that try to eat anything sitting on a table, and then the big, red fire ants. I put my back down by the river for a few seconds and they were already up my leg and on my hands, on my backpack and water bottle.