We rented a scooter for the day and decided to venture out of downtown Chiang Mai and see what there is to see around town. Well we heard there was a place called "Tiger Kingdom" (sounds magical, doesn't it?) so we headed in that direction.
I didn't even realize how excited I was until we pulled up and it hit me that I would get to pet a giant kitty cat! Every feminine instinct kicked in and I was pretty much squealing and jumping up and down when I saw the tigers. The cats are beautiful. They look beautiful, they move beautifully. With our ticket, we had 15 minutes to spend with a tiger of our choice in his cage. It wasn't nearly enough. We had just enough time to snap some photos, get the lazy tiger to walk around the cage with us, and force him to do a little snuggling... then they booted us out. I expected a tiger to be really fluffy and soft, but the hair is coarse and waxy and the body is firm... quite similar to petting a horse. We were allowed to touch the back paws but not the front paws or the face.
The tigers were really lethargic and the employees at Tiger Kingdom tried to keep them awake by dangling toys on sticks in the air. Many people assume that the tigers are drugged, which made me uneasy. However, Tiger Kingdom had information posted around the site that the tigers are never drugged-- tigers are night hunters and if they are well fed, they have no need to exert energy during the hottest parts of the day. You can read more about it here.
Last time I wanted a tiger for a pet so much was during my Calvin and Hobbes obsession as a kid! Visiting the tigers in Chiang Mai was one of the highlights from our entire time in Thailand.