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Wayne Hinshaw: A day at Tiger World

Tiger World

A very curious Emu with reddish/orange eyes.  Wayne Hinshaw/For the Salisbury Post

A very curious Emu with reddish/orange eyes. Wayne Hinshaw/For the Salisbury Post

On a recent outing with my grandchildren, we visited Tiger World here in Rowan County on Cook Road. I tend to think of the location as being near China Grove, and it is off Highway 152, but it does have a Rockwell address.

As with most places I go, I took my camera to get some close-up photos of some of the animals. I visited the preserve as a paying visitor and not as a news person doing a story. I love seeing the animals’ faces and eyes for some reason.

At Tiger World, unlike some zoos, you are able to get close to some of the animals. You can feed some animals with the peanuts and pet food mixture you purchase from the office. Of course for safety, the tigers and lions and “meat eating” animals are behind a double-wire fence and there is no feeding them.

The preserve is a rustic environment, with unpaved walkways around the compound with either grass or soil and no paved walkways winding around the fenced animals. Take caution when walking over the exposed tree roots on the walks.

Near the entrance, a white swan and a black swan, a few ducks, and a lot of turtles come to the banks for food. An owl watches us entering, with his eyes glued to us but not moving his body. The bears must be taking a nap inside their habitat today.

The real draw for visitors at Tiger World is the big cats, tigers and lions. There are numerous tigers, including Bengal tigers, white bengals and Siberian. There are African lions and Timbavati white lions. In the cat family, panthers, leopards and lynx are on exhibit.

The big cats don’t pay much attention to visitors. They go about their day sleeping in the warm sunshine. One female African lion takes in the day from top of a wooden structure. The male lion, with the long mane, just wasn’t up for viewing on this day. He sleeps off in the distance in the shade.

A rare South African Timbavati white lion rolls on her back like a kitten getting a back rub.

A white tiger walks the fence for awhile, then takes a spot in the sun absorbing the warmth of the day. The colored stripes on the cat look like  the mixture when making candy or a cake and you start to stir the reddish flavoring into the mixture, showing streaks of red and brown on his white fur.

Peacocks roam freely around the ground. Watch your step. Their feathers look like the work of an insane artist who designed their bodies. They have multi-colored feathers with many contrasting patterns.

The Red Kangaroo with her baby enjoys the kids and the food. They come to the fence to eat food from your hand. They are gentle and loving animals.

In the same confinement are Australian emus. They look like an ostrich. They are very curious creatures with big reddish/orange eyes, long legs and big feet made for running. They eat from your hand, but never take those big eyes off you. They watch you but carefully continue eating your serving.

The East African Crowned Crane wins the “coolest” hairdo contest with a yellow patch on top of its head standing straight up like a punk rocker. Maybe it is not hair. It looks like a brush. They can’t get enough food from your hand.

Other favorite birds are the parrots. Inside they come to the wire of the cage and hang by their claws and beaks getting as close to you as they can. While taking a photo of one of the parrots, another bird said, “Thank you.” I was amazed.

The iguana looks like a smaller version of the giant pre-historic dinosaur.

There are other animals, like the monkeys hanging from the top of their cage with one hand or the New Guinea Singing Dogs. I never did hear them sing, but they did make a continuous growling sound. Maybe that was singing after all.

Tiger World is closed on Wednesdays, and there is an admission fee since they are a nonprofit, privately owned zoo.



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