Tiger Kingdom Puts the Cats in Kathu
Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
In 1794 when poet William Blake wrote those lines he had little idea that the awe-inspiring subjects of his poem would find their way to a new Tiger Kingdom close to the Go-Kart track in Phuket’s Kathu region, just below Patong Hill.
Entering the extensive, well-treed grounds of the Tiger Kingdom you are firstly struck by the quietude and feeling of normality. Only after a while do you become aware that close at hand are many of these frankly majestic beasts lolling around, immersing themselves in the cooling pools, or indeed being petted and cuddled by abundant visiting locals and tourists….all of whom,adults and kiddies alike, wearing huge smiles of stunned admiration on their faces.
There are presently 27 tigers enjoying life at Tiger Kingdom with another 33 scheduled to arrive from the sister Tiger Park near Chiang Mai in the near future.And enjoy life they certainly seem to do being well fed and cared for by their handlers who have been with them since birth.
Phonphawit Ton-On is the enthusiastic and knowledgeable Chief of the park and says, “The tigers are used to being around humans from day one and are also fed with chicken morning and evening, so as long as we treat them with respect they are just about as friendly and accommodating as your domestic tabby-cat at home.”
The Kingdom offers close up encounters with varying sizes of felines form skittish little cubs, who are extremely kitten-like, right up to the three year old big boys weighing in at over 200 kilos, with their huge retractable claws and impressive dentition to match. Depending upon the package you buy, you can interact with, and indeed lie down and cuddle, many different sizes of tiger, all the while having your photos shot for you by a professional who will hand you a CD at the end of your adventure.
Overlooking the park’s tiger enclosures with their high electrified fences is a terrific balcony restaurant which is ideal for families to dine on either the a la carte menu,or all-you-can-eat buffet encompassing a huge section of Thai, Asian, Chinese and European dishes upon which to graze white watching the tiger’s activities. At just 400 baht per adult and 200 baht per child, the buffet is extremely good value and the location and views have to make it one of the most stunning in which to dine in all Phuket.
The tigers are happy, healthy and of course safe from poachers and other dangers that are sadly threats to them in today’s world. A breeding program is in place continually helping to increase the tiger population and they all enjoy regular exercise and health check-ups and vaccinations etc.
In fact if William Blake were alive today and had the pleasure of visiting Tiger Kingdom he might have written:
Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright
At Tiger Kingdom in Kathu,
What immortal hand or eye
Makesfor tigers as lucky as you?
118/88, Moo 7 Tambol Kathu, Amphur Kathu, Phuket 83120
Tel: (+66)76 323311-2