cat life, zoo stuff

BEDA day 3: Saturday Caturday with the “invisible tigers” at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Well, today got away from me but it’s still before midnight so this counts!

Today I went to the SD Safari Park with some friends from Orange County who came down for the day. The thing about the Safari Park is that I go on a fairly regular basis, so I notice when things change. I also know when and where to see various animals. And I know what times of day are better than others for seeing certain things. Like tigers.

I’ve heard several people say that the tiger exhibit is the Park’s joke on its guests, because there are no tigers. This is completely untrue! There are FOUR tigers at the Safari Park. I know because I asked. But people hardly ever see them and assume they are not on exhibit.

Why?

Well, there are some Things to know about tigers. The first Thing is that they are basically solitary. Sometimes in captivity they are in pairs, but usually they like to be alone.

The next Thing you need to know about tigers is that they sleep about SIXTEEN to TWENTY HOURS a day. I am not exaggerating. Only about four to eight hours are spent actively doing stuff, from hunting to walking territory to breeding.

The last Thing you need to know is that tigers are ambush hunters. In other words, they are VERY GOOD at hiding. They have excellent camouflage and feel safer when tucked away a little out of sight.

Put all of these Things together, along with an old fashioned exhibit design, and you get magically invisible tigers!

What’s actually happening is that the tigers are only put out in the big yard one at a time, except for a pair that go out together. They romp and explore for the first, oh, half an hour in the morning (so around 9am) and then they retreat to a particular spot in the back of the exhibit. It’s got a cement stoop and looks back into the night quarters and is in the shade. SO they have a cool cement slab to lie on and watch their keepers, and then sleep away the day, almost completely hidden from view.

If you know where to look, you can almost always spot them from the viewing platform. But the best view? It’s further down, before you ever reach the platform. Stop when you’re even with the rocks and look down and just past said rocks and I can almost guarantee you’ll see TIGER.

You’re welcome.

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