Bingles and me, we like animals. We especially like big animals. Preferably with fangs.
So when we found out about The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (which, coincidentally, spells T.I.G.E.R.S.) we booked the first tour of the site we could get.
T.I.G.E.R.S. does daily free shows at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach during the summer from 5pm-8pm. We love going there to look at the baby and adult tigers, as well as the monkeys.
At Barefoot, T.I.G.E.R.S. also gives you an opportunity to get ripped off have your picture taken with a monkey for about $90. That didn’t interest us at all.
But when Bingles found out that we could go to their 50-acre preserve and interact with all sorts of wild animals, we jumped at the chance. It cost about $350 for the two of us, but it was Bingles’ birthday, so why not?
So later that week, we were on our way to Socastee, which is hilarious because when you think of Socastee, you don’t exactly think “exotic animals.”
Anyway, when we got there, we were greeted by a huge guy in a kilt. We don’t have a picture of him, so here’s an artist’s rendering:
He was a great guy, and he told us all about the T.I.G.E.R.S. Preserve. He also summoned a hawk (he’s a hawkmaster, or a hawk guru, or something like that) and told us he would show us some other birds later.
Next, we were brought into a really nice building that overlooked the Preserve. We had to sign releases, saying that we recognized that wild animals like to kill humans, including us, blah blah blah…
As we were doing this, we were invited to go outside and meet someone named Hercules:
Hercules is a liger, which is a mix of a lion and a tiger. It’s pretty much my favorite animal. And Hercules is the largest feline alive; over 11 feet long, and weighing half a ton. This cat is crazy big, and we loved watching him drink from a baby bottle fed by a barely 5ft. tall woman (sorry, no pics).
Next, they brought out a bangarong bongaring bearcat, and he walked across our laps. We were then invited to smell our fingers:
Bearcats secrete some chemical that smells like doritos, which apparently is hated by predators. Hey, to each his own….more Doritos for me.
Next, we met back up with Kilt Man and got some one-on-one time with a HUGE owl.
Now, I’ve never really though much of owls. I didn’t dislike them, I had just never put a lot of thought into them one way or the other.
After this experience, I am now a BIG fan of owls. This guy’s eyes were mezmorizing. They were huge and shiny. He was a real beauty. And he must’ve sensed that I thought he was cool, because in between pictures he would turn his head all the way around and stare right at me.
Next, we were taken to Baby Tiger Central. No, that’s not what they call it, that’s what I call it…
First, they put the babys next to you so they can get comfortable with your scent. At this age (I have no idea what the age is) their eyes are still shut, so they only go by smell.
Next, they put the babies in your lap:
These little guys were so cute. It was surprisingly similar to a large regular cat, which is amazing because these guys were newborns.
After that, they brought out some slightly older cubs:
One thing to note: one of the tiger breeds they have is the Golden Tabby Tiger, which at one point was extinct. But T.I.G.E.R.S. has worked hard, breeding tigers together that had the recessive Tabby gene, to literally bring them back into existence!
So if you do go, you’ll feel good knowing you are helping to renew a once-extinct species!
Anyway, next we were given a photo-op with an even older cub (again, I have no idea of the ages):
For those looking at this who know just how much Bingles loves big cats, you can appreciate these pictures.
Bingles loves big cats more than most humans. Oddly enough, she’s not a fan of regular-sized cats, but she has a real thing for big ones. Needless to say, she was in Big Cat Heaven.
Unfortunately, we have no pictures of the best part of this tour, which is when we walked through the forest, surrounded by dozens of tigers and ligers.
It was one of the most exhilirating things in my left, to walk in the middle of these giant cats, as they all stared at us, probably wondering how stupid we were to be doing this. If only they had known we had actually PAID to do it…
Next we had a light lunch, and then came the primates. Here are a few of the highlights:
The above picture is one of my favorite of all time. I told everyone that they looked like our kids. They have the same hair color as Bingles, and they have my nose and ears.
Also, they were acting like typical kids; one looking at the camera and smiling, and the other holding Mommy and pouting.
Our fun with the primates coming to a close, we then went back to the main building. When we got there, we were greeted by some wolf puppies. Some of the people on the tour were scared, but I just kept thinking “doggies! doggies! doggies!” I love doggies. Doggies are the best animals in the world.
And these wolf pups were just like your typical doggies, just as happy as could be to climb in your lap, sniff you all over and lick your face. I LOVED IT! Sorry, no pics.
Fortunately, we did get our picture taken with an adult wolf:
After all the wild animal fun was done, we went back in the main building and had ice cream, granola bars, cheese and crackers, and various other snack foods. And yes, we did fill our pockets.
What? I paid $350 to get in there. I’m taking some Sun Chips with me.
Anyway, for anyone who wants to get some literally hands-on interaction with all sorts of awesome animals, go see T.I.G.E.R.S. Preserve. They now have an elephant, and you can swim in a pool with it. Yes, we are going back.
And if you’re looking for some free tiger-watching, go to Barefoot Landing and check out the T.I.G.E.R.S. showcase from 5pm-8pm during the summer months.
And if you want to get ripped off, pay $90 to have your picture taken with a monkey They also offer photographs with the animals.