Tiger World, expectations vs. reality

Easter Holidays left me with three weeks of nothing to do...so I flew off to North Carolina to spend my 26th birthday with dad and the dogs. Though that means that I would have three weeks of chilling in a nice warm climate with loads of free time. A friend of his bought us two tickets to Tiger World and I thought 'hey why not?' So before I give you my overall thoughts for the day let me tell you a little about the place.

Tiger World is an Endangered Wildlife Preserve located in North Carolina that's dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and preserving exotic species. Their goal is to provide the best environment for captive animals whilst offering visitors a learning experience. Being non-profit public charity, they depend on public support.

Now let me tell you first off that (for those who might not know) that I'm an animal care student. That means that my brain is full of welfare, zoology and other information that makes visiting such places a challenge. I was willing to visit Tiger World as I'd get to see big cats, wolves and possibly other animals that I might not have seen. 

We arrived, handed our ticket and in we went. Boy was I in for a shock! While the area was huge, the enclosures weren't. The big cats had roam to prowl, a den to hide in and a centre piece with platforms to climb and hide under. Now taking into consideration that this was a charity based place, I believe that not a lot of thought went into taking in all those animals. 

The worst I had to see was a baboon that was highly irritated and a load of animals showing stereotypical behaviours (a repetitive or ritualistic movement, posture, or utterance). Now I don't know the history behind any of those animals but I knew that there was a lot more that could have been done to help drive those behaviours away. Enclosures weren't utilised to the best of their abilities (not enough stimulation such as things to climb, mimicking natural environment). I've yet to do further research to determine whether America hold freedom acts for animals but from what I observed not a lot of the animals had access to water.  

Whilst the place provided visitors with a close encounter, through my eyes there wasn't anything amazing about being there. I was filled with emotions ranging from anger to sorrow. Parents weren't paying attention to their children who were mindlessly yelling, shouting and stressing out the animals. Care takers were hardly anywhere to be seen. 

Maybe I'd set my expectations too high, thinking this would be a well organised and thought out place. Maybe if I was a child who didn't understand that that was their life from there on out, I could have enjoyed it a bit more. Maybe I was letting the student side of me take over too much which didn't allow me to truly see what Tiger World was trying to do. Either way, I didn't enjoy my time spent there. As quick as I was inside I wanted to be back out and on my way home. Each to their own opinion in the end but I wouldn't recommend Tiger World to any of my close friends or relatives.