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Unleashed Neighborhood Cats: Tiger Kingdom, Chiang MaiA visit to the Tiger Kingdom Chiang Mal Is an outing every member of the family will enjoy. The countryside setting amid towering trees is a welcome diversion to get away from the concrete buildings In the hot city.

We arrived late morning and there wore some visitors there already. Its a very popular destination with visitors from all over the world especially for British and Chinese visitors. The walk through the various cages was limed at our own pace. Before entering the cages, all visitors me asked to wash their hands to re duce the oil and dust on the skin.

The tigers are fed just before 10 am and around 5 pm every day. During those times there aren't any visitors around In the park to disturb the tigers and their keepers.

Tiger cubs at the Tiger Kingdom, Chiang Mai.Our first stop was to net the three month old young ones. The tiger cubs are named by the team of keepers. Most cubs get Thai names such as Tongyodt, and Tongfoy (two delicious Thai desserts) but, for me. a memorable name I heard was Luke Skywalker. These four cubs were wily riddle and all of us, humans and tigers alike. were happy to sit on the floor together. One cub was placed on a table to showoff for the photographers who got some grant photos for our souvenir photos.

The staff observed a Westerner in our group and we were accompanied by a volunteer who provided information in English. She's from the UK and on a long holiday In Chiang Mal. She jumped at the chance to volunteer when She learned she can be a helper at the Tiger Kingdom. And like the adorable cubs, she too was named by the keepers as 'Tang mo' or watermelon.

We moved on to the enclosure with the 12 month old tiger which is a bit unnerving. "Shane" greeted us here. Shane is a pioneer developing the Tiger Kingdom from initial layout of the park to the landscaping, construction continuing with the continual training of the staff for about four years already. He's had plenty of practical experience from the original tiger kingdom in Udorn Thani in the north east of Thailand. It's a much larger park for families with 100 tigers in residence.

There are plenty of Tiger Kingdom staff set the pace of activity when they accompany visitors in the enclosures. One tiger entered the pool, jumping and splashing around. Being the hot day. it was, most visitor in the group commented it would be great if we could jump into the pool with the tiger. In the hot part of the day, mostly the tigers shaft their smarts by stretching out in a nice shady spot to remain as cool as possible.

Being with the stir month old cubs really kept us on our tees. They are boldly curious. One cub was particularly fascinated with the video camera eying it intently almost as if the camera was a large steak. Then again, the center of attention might haw been the photographer's sturdy legs resembling chicken that is the main diet staple. We all chuckled as we pointed out the likeness to the camera man.

Scenes at the Tiger Kingdom.

And speaking of lunch. we were hungry after walking to meet the wildlife in that modem day safari. Lucky for all visitors to Tiger Kingdom, there is a restaurant with big windows and great terraces to continue viewing the older tigers around the swimming pool. Before lunch, however, we had two more stops to make. One stop was to meet the young Von. It is kind of lonely for him, being the only lion the tiger park. At least the don has Shane to pay attention to him. Less than 12 months old the lion still has a lot of growing to do. The mane won't appear until four wars of age. He was in an even sleepier mood than the tigers which we appreciated. We felt a thrill just being so near. The lion did not haw to perform any clever tricks for us.

The second visit was the dessert of the visit. That is, dessert for the eyes; we were given a sneak peek of the 15 day old cub twins. Of course, we did not handle the kitten-sized young ones but Just seeing the little darlings was a great delight for us. They are given round the clock care by the attentive Tiger Kingdom staff.

I am really grateful to the Tiger Kingdom group for maintaining a clean and hygienic environment to look after these beautiful creatures of the wild by keeping them safe from hen from the Illegal hunting In the tar plains of Africa.

Ed. Note: The 15 minute drive north on Mac Rim Road passes several animal sanctuaries where slops could be made to make an entertaining day long field trip to got to know the mom about monkeys, 'rosters, butterflies and snakes. You can read more about these worthwhile places in the pages of this magazine.

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