I am a huge animal lover, always have been but my favorite animal has always been the majestic Tiger. In 2004, while on the Board of Trustees for the Calgary Zoo, we lost our Tiger, Khasam, succumbing to inoperable cancer. It affected me personally and swayed me to begin a individual search to see how to replace him outside of the Zoological gene pool. A major challenge and lesson in bureaucracy.
I found to my dismay that in 1997 the WWF conducted a survey of the world wide population of Tigers and published there were only 50,000 Tigers left in the world. They were put on the endangered species list. I also found an interesting group of Buddhist Monks in Thailand who were rescuing hurt or injured tigers and attempting to reintroduce them into the largest of Thailand’s national reserve Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park north of Chaing Mai.
I made application and was accepted to work at the Tiger Temple as a Volunteer Tiger Caregiver. Having been accepted, I traveled to Thailand to live in the Temple for four weeks and have gained a unique life experience living with the monks at the Temple, volunteering on a daily bases as Tiger Caregiver and teaching English. The experience had such an impact and the opportunity of participating in an initiative that could save the indo-Chinese species from extinction was so inspiring that I have returned for three to four weeks every year for the past “Ten” years.
In 2007 the WWF conducted a new study to discover the World Tiger population had diminished to less than 3,500 tigers, worldwide. Three of the eight species are now extinct. My passion for this animal compelled me to join the campaign to save the Tiger from extinction. A fact that could sadly happen within our lifetime. Can you imagine your grandchildren only knowing of such an animal based on pictures in a book or someone’s video?
A tragedy worth avoiding