Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years work within zoos.
Avoiding Tiger Bites
With the exception of some disturbed schizophrenic it is highly unlikely that anyone wants to be bitten by a tiger. Not only would such a bite likely to be very serious and accompanied by severe claw action (unless the animal was declawed) but may result in both infection, permanent disablement and even death.
Tigers are wild animals. It may be possible through hand rearing and a degree of imprinting to build up a relationship with some animals. Even then tigers remain wild, they are never tame, never domesticated. Tigers in such a situation are an accident waiting to happen.
The easiest way to avoid Tiger bites is not to have hands on handling of tigers. Tigers should be maintained properly in well maintained and enriched enclosures. They should not be in actual contact with people. Zoos which allow hands on contact with tigers are dysfunctional zoos.
It is never necessary to enter enclosures with tigers or any other large cats. To do so is not clever and simply promotes unsafe working practice. Professional Zoo Keepers in Good Zoos trap animals into the inside enclosures when they go into maintain the outside and vice versa. It is easily accomplished by training, without risk or danger.
It's Common Sense
Common sense should tell you that entering an enclosure with a large Carnivore has an element of risk involved. It matters little whether the animal was mother reared or hand reared because the danger is always there. The only thing that changes is the degree of risk. It is almost inevitable that one day someone is going to be injured or killed.
Tiger Handlers and Trainers
There has always been an element of 'Training' involved within the zoo environment. It is important because it allows for stress free management and care. It is also enriching for the animals. All Zoo Keepers train and all Trainers keep (or should).
Where things have really started to go wrong in the zoo world in recent years is the rise and rise of the titles 'Tiger Handler' and 'Tiger Trainer'. These give the impression to those outside of the industry that handling and training tigers is a normal and necessary activity. It isn't!
There is absolutely no need ever to enter an enclosure with any big cat. If places want to carry out that sort of activity then they need to change their name to 'Circus'. They are giving good zoos a bad name. Entering enclosures with Big Cats has no place in the modern good zoo. The only place for Tiger Handlers is in the Dysfunctional Zoo.....In fact I would go as far as to say that these places ARE Dysfunctional Zoos up until such time they cease this totally unnecessary practice.
This is a Boomer Ball provided as a toy for a tiger. These balls are made of really hard plastic. Check out the damage to the ball. Skin and bone is so much softer.
Zoo Keepers Killed
2013 probably saw more Zoo Keepers killed or injured by Big Cats than in many recent years. Not all were 'Tiger Handlers or Trainers' but some were. All of these were as a result of keeper error. The biggest error of all is entering enclosures with these animals in the first place.
Blame for the Tiger Handler/Trainer accidents rests firmly and solely in the hands of the owners/managers of these collections. It is their responsibility and not anyone else's. All they seem to be bothered about is pulling in extra cash for a totally unnecessary activity.
Check out the following for more views and news on zoos:
Early Depiction of a Tiger Keeper
The woodcut above is an early depiction of a tiger keeper. One wonders what happened to him.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on January 02, 2014:
Or one of the Irwins staff aviannovice..
Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on January 02, 2014:
I fully agree with you, Peter. It was also a only a matter of time before Steve Irwin was called by a wild animal, too. They obviously operate solely on instinct. They are not to be blamed for these things if someone risks their lives. As good as I am with wild animals, I would NEVER, repeat NEVER trust a large animal like that. They are instinctively doing what they were created to do--hunt for food, or protect themselves and their family. Sure, I want to go to the African Savannah for photo ops, but with a lens that allows me to keep back far enough.
CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on January 01, 2014:
Interesting hub. I realised the power of a tiger when I saw them being fed in a zoo in the north of England. The tigers were locked out of their outer enclosure while meat was fixed to high poles and hidden in the rocks and bushes. When the gates were opened the meat was gone from the top of the poles in a matter of seconds and all I saw was a flash of orangey fur and the pole vibrating. Tigers are powerful wild animals and should be treated and respected as such - people who want something to cuddle should get a kitten.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on December 27, 2013:
A bit closer is good FlourishAnyway. It is nice to be able to hear a tiger and smell it. Both are wonderful and painless. It is where touch comes along that risk comes into play.
FlourishAnyway from USA on December 27, 2013:
You provide adequate warning to those who seek to go near. I am one who marvels at a distance through a camera lens.