Longleat’s Tigers Are Grrrrrr-eat!!!!

Maybe I am having a mid-life crisis. I am 40 next birthday and so I am primed and ready for one. For the last year, I have been thinking a lot about freedom, independence, feminism, being a woman, the divine feminine, mother earth, mother nature, conservation, sustainability, survival, war, why war, health, wealth, love and happiness.

I feel like I am really re-connecting with who I am since I stopped ‘following the drum’. Just by-the-by Chairman of the RAF Families Federation, Dawn McCafferty, delivered a speech to the MoD Welfare Conference on the 1 Sep 11, which I think the MOD should take heed of her warning and listen very carefully – IGNORE THE FAMILIES AT YOUR PERIL!!!


Then Catherine from the London Meditation Project sent me a link to TREE SISTERS about a female collective intent of re-forestation to save Mother Earth in the next 10 years. An organisation calling an army of women to come together and re-invest in the planet that humans, ruled by men, are asset stripping. It’s about women re-addressing the balance.

A few months ago I met an incredibly inspirational woman called Li Quan who has made it her mission to ‘Save The South China Tiger’ from extinction. The South China Tiger is the origin of the tiger species. Since my meeting with Li I have been thinking about tigers a lot. I have never really had much experience of tigers and now that I am living in Wiltshire, I thought that I would make the most of a local big cat experience on my doorstep at Longleat Safari Park.

Longleat offers a range of VIP experiences that will get you closer than ever to some of the wildest of wildlife but for me I just wanted to get up close and personal with the tiger. I needed to look into the eyes of the tiger and see for myself what has enchanted so many.

I was met by keepers Brian and Stuart in their stripey safari jeep – which was very cool!!! I sat in the back of a stripey jeep!! And they drove me to the cages, where the four Siberian tiger are housed at night. There is one male and three females. The three females are sisters.

The male sat proudly dominating the cage and one of the females would wander in and out and nuzzle him. The first thing that struck me was the smell of the cage, a sort of bittersweet, musky, strong, rich animal odour that I wouldn’t want to bottle! It was still a very powerful smell.

The male tiger was magnificent and beautiful. He was un-phased by my presence and I felt I could approach him. I had an overwhelming urge to touch him and put his face in between my hands. The female that kept nuzzling him was his mate and she moved around the cage with great confidence. The other two females sat back. As I moved down towards the end of the cage. One of the females came forward, up to the bars. She lent forward on her haunches and assumed the hunting position. She looked at me down from the ground with eyes that said; “you are dead meat”. She was not a happy tigeress at all.

[Click on this link to watch the angry female roar at me. As Take That so aptly put it ‘Only Takes A Minute’!!]

Her anger and aggression filled me with fear. Her roar burst deeply through my stomach and quite frankly I shat my pants!! I can still feel it now. There is something deeply unexpected about hearing the roar of a big cat so up, close and personal that you can feel the warmth from their breath. It was truly terrifying and I was scared. I didn’t want to hang around the cages much longer and I was ready to go.

The keepers told me that tigers are wild and they hunt the squirrels and the birds within the reservation. I could see by looking into their eyes that they are wild animals and they are dangerous. Humans are killing off species by the minute and we all want to save the beautiful furry ones but apparently nobody cares about the ugly, slimy ones. I care about them all but am not sure how to help. Having faced the tigers roar I understand the fear that those who live amongst tigers must have, and feel like Li Quan does, that to save them we must find room to create a dedicated habitat for them, where they can live and breed freely, but not endanger the indigenous populations that are fighting for their own survival……

At the moment that’s all I got but you can help by….

– Maybe visiting Longleat and seeing for yourself

– Or supporting Li Quan’s quest to Save The South China Tiger

Me, for now, I am just going to think about it some more….


  1. Up north, in Cumbria, there is another wild animal park which does a lot for tigers too, South Lakes Wild Animal Park. I have been a regular (during my trips to the UK) since they started. It is a fabulous experience. At feeding time they do a talk on tiger conservation and pass a collection box round. Weel worth the visit if you are ever up there: http://www.wildanimalpark.co.uk/

    1. I have driven past it. I have a friend that lives in Barrow so next time I am up that way I shall definitely pop in! Thanks, for the heads up. 🙂

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