Really! I did! And I've got the pictures to prove it! If Buck Owens could do it, why not me? I entered the cage of two full grown tigers and interacted with them.
This one is not for the faint hearted, I'll tell you my heart was really pumping fast at first entering the cage. You are completely enclosed so it gives you a feeling they don't want the tigers (or you!) to escape. I nearly chickened out at the last minute, but hey, they looked like nice little putty-cats.
Do these fellas look like they would bite me?
I was in northern Thailand near Chiang Mai when I learned of the experience. For the price of about $25 USD at the time you can get into the cage with the big tigers along with the tiger keeper. I had a choice of baby tigers or the big ones, I chose mommy and daddy.
The girl who was the tiger keeper (if that's the name for her), was from Sweden. Since I had worked in Sweden during my engineering years I was familiar with some words and surprised her with that.
She did a great job making me feel comfortable and taking the pictures for me (which is their job I think).
Yes they have teeth! That's not my hand in the mouth. No way.
The cats were mostly just lounging, only interacting with one another.
The place is called Tiger Kingdom. It is a breeding ground for tigers. I normally avoid zoo type places, especially in foreign lands, as the animals are often not well cared for. But here they seemed in a very good environment. I know my tiger keeper was very kind to her tigers.
Does he look like he'd eat anybody? Look at the size of that paw!
I was there during the rainy season so there were not many people. I was the only one who entered the cages on my visit, so no line! I'm really not sure there ever is at this place.
I entered and started by apprehensively patting the cats. They really took little notice of me. Too hot I guess.
When I saw they had little response I got a little braver and a little closer.
I hope the one in the back doesn't attack!
I was allowed about 10 minutes or so in the cage. More than enough to meet my expectations.
Of course I had to be able to claim I had a tiger by the tail. I grabbed and lifted it hoping for the same lethargic response from the cat.
No response from the patted tiger but the other one started licking. Was he just tasting before the meal?
It really surprised me how much the tail weighs of these jungle beasts. I would guess the tail I lifted to weigh around 15 lbs. I expect the tiger itself weighs in at 350 - 400 lbs.
This was certainly a unique experience I'm happy I took the opportunity to engage in. I didn't leave here with the sense of dread I experienced at similar places where I felt the animals were abused.
Btw, I was singing that Buck Owen's song in my head the whole time I was in that cage.