I’ve put off writing this post for awhile, just because I’m still not really sure how I feel about it. One of the very popular things for tourists to do in Chiang Mai is visit the Tiger Kingdom, a place where you can see, take pictures of, and even interact with tigers.
You can choose which group of tigers you’d like to see, they have baby ones, teenagers, and full grown adults, the price varies depending on which group you want to see.
I’d had a few friends that did it, so I kind of new what to expect, and I already knew I didn’t want to interact with the big ones. Tigers are wild animals after all, and in order to have people in the cages with them, taking pictures and touching them, they drug them, to keep them sleepy and easy to handle. The whole idea of that just made me very sad.
We opted to just see the baby ones, because they are too small to do any damage they aren’t drugged, and you get to go in and see them and play with them for about 15 minutes. It was a really neat experience, the babies are mostly running around playing with each other, and you try to get a picture if you can.
I was sitting on the floor and one of them came and laid beside me, and he batted at my fingers and wrapped his paws around my leg. He chewed on me a little bit, but I like to think it was out of affection, and it didn’t hurt at all.
After our time was up, we went and had a drink at the cafe on site, where you can watch people doing their interactions with the big tigers. The adult tigers were mostly just laying on the ground, or up on a pedestal sleeping, while groups of tourists laid on them, pretended to be biting them, or made growling faces beside them.
It was kind of awful to watch, these big, powerful, beautiful animals spending hours out of the day drugged to sleep so that tourists could pay to lay on top of them.
It seemed very disrespectful, and I remember thinking that if one of the tigers did wake up and bite someone, it would serve everybody right. Not that I wanted anybody to get hurt, but if you don’t want to get bit, maybe don’t lay on top of a sleeping tiger.