I had heard about the Monastery near to Kanchanaburi in Thailand where the monks had started to rear tigers in captivity in order to preserve the species in Thailand. In the past tigers were common in the wild in the forests of northern Thailand close to the border with Burma (now Myanmar). I thought I would love to see this, so I got on a bus from Bangkok and arrived in Kanchanaburi where there is a beautifully preserved and maintained cemetery memorial to the 300,000 allied prisoners of war worked or starved to death by the Japanese during the course of building the “Death Railway”
From Kanchanaburi it was a short taxi ride to the monastery. After paying the fee to get in I and many others walked to the centre of the place where the buildings and stables were situated. I saw monks leading fully grown tigers out walking for their daily exercise and at one place there were some tiger cubs supervised by a very young monk and being introduced to the public.
People either love or are scared of animals and tigers in particular and all animals have a great ability to recognise and interpret human body language. This gives the animal clear information as to who is likely to be scared or confident and friendly towards them. But all young animals basically just want to play and have fun. I was utterly at ease with my new playmate in the photo and had great fun teasing him and playing around with him. However there was one lady who was petrified of tigers big or small ( and who really should not have come there!) and as soon as one of the cubs sensed her fear he ran off towards her to “play”. Well the lady immediately screamed and ran away in terror. But the cub, realising he was in for some good fun, ran after her and gave her a nip on the back of her leg. Pandemonium broke out and calm was only restored after the young monk came to her rescue!!