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Out of Africa, Part 3

One of the highlights of any trip to Out of Africa is the "Tiger Splash". First a tiger is escorted through fully-enclosed paths (reconfigured by gates) to the arena which includes a tiger-size swimming pool. Since each day's action is enjoyed by a different tiger, the handlers have to be flexible with the routing. At one point in this one's journey, I was only a few feet away — he was not particularly concerned about me — but I could not help but think about escape routes, which in reality would have been useless if the fully-enclosed fence did not keep us apart.

Once in the arena, this biggest of all cats (yes, tigers are bigger than lions) played like a little kitty cat — here rolling in the grass.

He then took a stroll around the perimeter of the arena — perhaps thinking of his next meal. Funny, this little guy did not seem all that concerned.

The biggest part of the Tiger Splash involves the handlers waving inflated plastic animals connected to rods in front of the tiger — again playing with this huge animal the way one plays with a house cat. Tigers enjoy water — so jumping for the balloon animal with a splashdown in the pool is total play fun for them.

What is not fine with them is someone trying to take away their prize. Of course, the handlers cannot allow the tiger to consume the plastic remnants — so the handlers must distract the animal with a slab of meat — chicken or beef. Curiously, some of the tigers prefer one or the other — this one likes both.

After Tiger Splash, I wondered the grounds and spotted a white tiger off in the distance. My 300 mm lens will bring them closer than it appears. I was probably 100 yards away but this guy spotted me and was watching me carefully.

It was a warm day — the low nineties — which many of the big cats used as an excuse to catch a few winks — here a lioness resting in the shade.

This young male lion, his mane not yet developed, was resting close to the fence of his enclosure.

In another enclosure was a small pride overseen by a mature male. They preferred sleeping to posing nicely for me. Too bad, they could have become famous.

In another enclosure was a female who looked like she was stalking an antelope.

In fact, she was stalking this father and daughter — the latter would have made a nice snack — walking back and forth as they strolled around the enclosure. I thought that this photo was so cute that I gave the father my email address so he could contact me for a copy of the shot — which I sent to him a few days later.

To be continued...


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com