Say Cheese, and Don't Eat Me, Please

To celebrate my daughter’s 16th birthday on Sunday we full-filled one of her childhood wishes – to hold a tiger. There is a zoo about 2 hours from us that lets you get a photo taken with one of their baby tigers for a fee, so I built her birthday around it.

The $40 fee seemed more than reasonable to me – I mean to hold a baby tiger is a very cool thing indeed and you get your picture taken to commemorate the experience as well. My problem was, the whole encounter lasted less than 90 seconds. They put the tiger on your lap, snap two photos, let you pet it for about 4 seconds and take it away. My youngest barely got to touch it at all. You are then ushered out of the room where you stand dazed and thinking, “That was it? That’s what $40 bought me?”

But, it was a thrill for my oldest and that’s all that mattered. We headed into the zoo and the rest of the day was filled with elephant rides, feeding the animals, and a few other misadventures as well.

My youngest, while feeding the camels, got bit. They didn’t break the skin, but she had a serious camel tooth imprint on two of  her fingers. She cried, but then tearfully told herself to “buck up” because she didn’t want to ruin her sister’s birthday.

Later in the day we were hanging out in front of the tiger cages – these were the moms and dad of two cubs the zoo has. The big 500 pound albino male tiger was pacing back and forth along the front of the enclosure. I was marveling at his beauty, standing with my girls, when his tail lifted and…

He sprayed us.

I could see the liquid coming at us, almost in slow motion. I screamed and jumped back. I looked at my youngest, who stood statue like with a look of utter revulsion on her face. The poor girl had a big droplet of tiger spray on her forehead. I’m sure we were sprayed elsewhere, but it was  hard to tell because it had just rained a little and our shirts were covered in droplets anyway. It was hard to tell if it was rain or tiger juice.

I wiped her down, and we laughed about how he had chosen to scent us – I joked that we were part of his pride now that we had been properly anointed – hell, I was willing to say anything to make her feel better about getting peed on. We then headed to the nearest bathroom to sanitize ourselves.

All in all, it was a really good day. Our tiger cub experience, while short, was memorable. And it was a nice day spent with just our family. I sorta dig that.

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