About this time every year the pressure starts to increase as one tries to think of something that ‘Mother’ will like for Mother’s Day. After all it is ‘Mother’ who does most of the cooking, mending, breaking up children’s arguments and so on.
Last year we had planned a 10 day trip to Queensland’s Gold Coast. In early March, two tiger cubs were born with appropriate ‘aren’t they cute’ comments being made every time they were shown on television news services and current affairs shows.
During some late night research I discovered that Dreamworld visitors could have a variety of experiences with the tigers. One of these experiences was morning walk with a tiger before the park opened. And so it was. A walk with a tiger became the Mothers Day gift and one which was looked forward to.
Our 0715 arrival was a bit earlier than the 0730 for a 0800 start as instructed. Better early than late. While filling in time at Tiger World we discovered the tiger cubs in their morning enclosure and were offered the chance to pat them. Just like any family there was an extrovert and an introvert and the former made it difficult for the handler. But the ‘cute’ factor was off the chart!
After a brief induction and introduction to Sita (our Bengal tiger for the morning) we set off for an hour with one of the world’s big cats. Sita’s unusual butterscotch colouring is the result of having a white father and an orange mother. Sita was 13 years old and weighed 150 kilograms at the time of our visit. Think of your own house cat, just on a larger scale.
Our walk took us along a small railway track during which Sita never once let her delicate paws touch the gravel between the tracks opting instead to place them on the sleepers. We discovered that over time her lady ship’s paws have become tender and to combat this, like many of the fairer sex, she has moisturiser applied to them every day.
During our sixty minute walk, although there where several handlers with us, it was clearly Sita who was in charge. She would just flop down in her favourite patches of grass and allow us to have our photograph taken with her. The only thing she would not allow was hands around her ears and head. After seeing the size of her pearly white teeth that seemed a reasonable request with which to agree.
In years gone by, Sita fostered two cubs which are now fully grown adults. Somewhere along the way the cubs savaged Sita and they are no longer good friends. As we were returning to the tiger world enclosure the ‘cubs’ were out on Tiger Island where all shows are performed. The ‘cubs’ noted Sita’s presence immediately and were in the process of telling her where to go. She replied, in no uncertain terms, which drew our attention to the fact the gentle cat we had walked with for the past hour was in fact a wild animal.
‘Mother’ loved her belated Mothers Day outing. This was an experience which we will never forget and would recommend to any visitor to Queensland’s Gold Coast.