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Experienced Tiger Handler
- Location: Thailand
- Salary: Voluntary
- Contract: Voluntary / Date Posted: Jun 20, 2013
We are SPOZAC, a group of independant volunteers who approached a Safari Park owner asking if we could improve animal welfare and tourist revenue by proxy. It was a good day for all the animals at the park when he finally said we could move in.
We have been here 8 months already and all the derelict and damaged primate cages have been made safe. Enrichment is added daily and a total diet change from dog food and rice to species specific diets has been implemented.
A pair of binturongs we now care for we're also brought back from the brink, practically in comas before we arrived, barely able to move and unable to do anything in their bare cell we soon set to work doubling the size of the enclosure and teaching them to climb and swim. You can watch their story on our website at www.safarivolunteer.com
We now have care of one tiger cub, an ever expanding collection of leopard cubs and one lion cub. Before the volunteer program arrived these animals would have been destined to a life of being chained to tables for tourist photo shoots. We are trying to end this practice and have gained the trust of the management enough through proving our competence that he has allowed us to train these animals for a life off the chains.
We formulate their diets to ensure they are receiving the best possible nutrition, although a lot of things are still out of our control. We hope to bring in someone with experience working with these amazing animals to help us take on more responsibility - with so many animals to take care of we are currently stretched very thinly.
The tiger cub and one leopard cub are currently been clicker trained and are responding well, therefore it is essential that the correct applicant have experience with clicker training, preferably with large carnivores. These cats are also regularly out of enclosures for tourist photo shoots (off the chain) so animal handling experience is a must. You must not be afraid to walk and exercise with juvenile (up to 18 month) tigers. We are trying to move the emphasis off tourist interactions with big cats and replace it with safer methods such as tug of war through the bars however the current set up means that hands on contact is the only way to move the animals between enclosures (other then the Thai way of just chaining them to a truck to then be chained to a table).
We call this extreme zoo keeping - the monsoon is here! It is hot at around 40 degrees C and is beginning to rain heavily each day. Cage damage is a regular occurrence and health and safety is minimal. The Thai way of thinking is very different to what you may expect and you should be adaptable and understanding and able to respect the local culture, while still maintaining your passion for greater animal welfare in Asia.
There is only one position available and the successful applicant will be provided with accommodation and food in return for a 6 day work week. The cubs are walked around 8:30am and taken to night enclosures around 4pm but with the imminent construction of new enclosures you must be prepared to be flexible with your working days and hours. The accommodation provided is a large double room with ensuite and balcony onto the rice paddies.Food is served 3 times a day and always includes lots of rice!
Applicants with the following experience and skills we be given priority:
Experience with clicker training
Experience training big cat cubs (please explain methods used)
Experience with hand raising tiger/lion/leopard cubs
Experience with tigers/lions/leopards of all ages (please specify on application maximum ages and species you have experience with)
Able to formulate cub diets - sourcing ingredients for this on a limited budget
Able to design and build enrichment for big cats of all ages as part of a team
Able to work in a hot climate in challenging conditions
Leadership qualities but will be working as part of a team
Experience with other zoo animals other then big cats is an advantage