Wet and wild time for Zoran the Bengal tiger
From: The Daily Telegraph December 29, 2009 11:31PM
TO Zoran, the bengal tiger, Ben Britton is just another big cat, up for fun in a swimming pool on a warm Summer’s day.
To Mr Britton, seven-month-old Zoran is a different direction for the future of wildlife education and conservation.
After more than a decade of working for zoos and wildlife parks, Mr Britton decided to start a “private zoo” – Wild Animal Encounters – to allow people to get up close and personal with endangered animals.
“Books and videos are all well and good, but there’s nothing like actually smelling and touching an exotic animal to get people involved in conservation,” Mr Britton, 33, said.
“Traditional zoos do great work but the animals are behind wire or glass. We take ours to schools, to private parties, corporate events, to TV studios.
“We are not exploiting the animals. They are not trained to do performances. We are not a circus. They behave naturally.
“When I’m having a swim with Zoran on a hot day, it’s the interaction needed to reaffirm the relationship with him, but he’s just doing what comes naturally.
“Bengal tigers love to swim and play in the water and to him I’m basically just another tiger he’s playing with.”
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