ThailandVisitors will be able to ‘feel, touch, hug and take photos with tigers without chains or drug control’

New tiger park in Phuket faces tour operator backlash

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New tiger park will encourage visitors to be photographed with the animals.
New tiger park will encourage visitors to be photographed with the animals. Photo Credit: pigphoto/GettyImages

PHUKET - At a time when many tour operators are turning their backs on attractions that involve close human interaction with wild animals, a new tiger tourist attraction is set to open in Phuket at the end of the month.

In 2014, we banned elephant rides on all our trips, and we don’t permit any activities that allow passengers to pet or walk with wild animals, such as lion walks in South Africa. We believe that wild animals should be viewed – with no contact or interaction – doing what they do best: living in the wild.– Intrepid Travel

Called Tiger Park, the facility will house 29 tigers, including cubs, and female and male adult tigers, ranging from two months to 10 years old.

Visitors to the park will be encouraged to have their photographs taken with the tigers.

Tippawan Prathummanee, general manager of Tiger Park Phuket, which operates under Navaphol Big Tiger Co Ltd, the operator of Tiger Park Pattaya, told the Phuket News, “Our goal is to ensure that all of our tigers live in natural environments that make them feel safe. You can feel, touch, hug and take photos with tigers without chains or drug control.

“We have had much experience with tigers in Pattaya. We are well educated about tiger behaviours and how to take care of them.”

Intrepid Travel is among tour operators that have distanced themselves from tourist activities that offer close contact with wild animals.

“We actively discourage the participation of Intrepid passengers in any activities that exploit wild or domestic/working animals,” Intrepid said.  

“In 2014, we banned elephant rides on all our trips, and we don’t permit any activities that allow passengers to pet or walk with wild animals, such as lion walks in South Africa. We believe that wild animals should be viewed – with no contact or interaction – doing what they do best: living in the wild.”

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