From all I have heard, I was really looking forward to going to The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.) Preservation Station but was not sure what to expect.
The adventure began when I received my confirmation email consisting of two pages: the first stating a few simple rules and the second was a map. The funny thing is – you can print the first page but you cannot print the map!
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The main purpose of the preserve is to teach critical conservation, not to be a tourist attraction although it helps to support the mission.
When I finally went into the preserve, I was able to understand why. This is no ordinary walk in the park and all I can say is WOW. The humans are definitely the guests in the animals’ home.
The invited guests were all gathered just inside the gates, introduced to our tour guides and told what to expect from the day. We were told it is like a “Broadway show”; the day would be choreographed and the animals knew what to do. And they sure did.
What I noticed most was how pristine the land was. And how proud all the trainers were of the property and the inhabitants. After all, “this is not a job, it is a lifestyle,” according to one of the trainers.
Next we went into the reception area where we were given more of an explanation of the day and a history of the preserve as well as of the founder, Doc Antle. We watched some short videos and told that many of the animals used in movies such as Dr. Doolittle came from the preserve.
As we walked around, it was easy to see why T.I.G.E.R.S. is a tourist destination. Rob, our lead tour guide shared that there are groups that travel to Myrtle Beach just to visit them and they receive visitors from all over the world.
Where else can you go where humans are “locked in cages and the animals roam free” as one of our engaging tour guides laughed while we had some snacks? (Actually we were safely in a cabin while the tigers outside performed some tricks for us).
My favorite part of the day? Getting up close with the animals especially the chimps. There is not much more that I can share because I don’t want to ruin the experience for you. All I can say is that I walked away with a greater appreciation of the animal world and those that train them.
You can tell from the pictures below how much I enjoyed the day.
Until next week … enjoy all the Grand Strand has to offer.
Since July 2011, Sherrie has been living in North Myrtle Beach and sharing the best that the Grand Strand has to offer. From people to events, Grand Strand Happening is your source for everything fun from Little River to Murrells Inlet.