(TAMPA 26 AUG 06) - This is Enshala, a Sumatran Tiger who lived at the Lowry Park Zoo.  One of the fewer than 500 Sumatran Tigers in the world.  Today there is one less Sumatran. 

Yesterday "Enshala" was shot to death after one of her "newer" keepers left her cage open at the night closing and she escaped into the public side of the Zoo. 

In the St. Petersburg Times, it was reported the unnamed careless new worker was released from his position and face charges under an obscure animal endangerment act usually reserved for owners of wild pets that get loose. 

The Zoo stated it had a plan, used it, but the tranquilizer gun's load was either not strong enough nor fast enough to slow the tiger down in close quarters to the veterinarian. Fearing for the veterinarian, and with the Tiger making it to a boundary wall, the Zoo President had little choice and administered the lethal shot. 

According to some of the stated comments, procedures were followed, they practice wild animal breaking out scenarios and train for the events that unfortunately can happen. It's very sad. I have witnessed putting an animal down before and it's not easy. 

Neither will it be easy for the trainee to absorb all the grief one moment in time can bring. I can understand all the keepers feelings towards her. She was a beautiful animal, not the cuddly kind, REGAL would describe her. The picture I took of her is one of my favorites. 



Here is a park that went from worst to best over the years. Lowry Park was voted on some list many years ago as a "DUMP" as far as animals were concerned and some great folks in Tampa Bay took the park and made it into one of the best in recent years.  Considered by some, almost a miracle transition. 

But, there are other stories which show how animal captivity has it's dangerous side. Lowry Park lost an Elephant trainer several years ago to a rampage the female went on.  Just having a bad day...

More recently, three years ago, an animal keeper at Busch Gardens lost her arm to Max, the 15 year old male Lion while petting him against all primary rules. I have a shot of Max on my business cards and brochures. 

The cub above (picturized in Photoshop) is the same animal in the large mat near the end of this article. I was there their first day out when the three cubs were shown to the public. Tigers have always been at the top of the Photographic 
“  food chain”. I could tell the cub liked me and his claws proved it. Nice scratches.

Who could resist to photograph this beautiful, elusive and magnificent creature. Tigers once ranged from eastern Turkey through southern Asia and the islands of Sumatra, Java, and Bali, to the eastern shores of Asia on the Sea of Okotsk. Today tigers are no longer found west of India or on the islands of Java and Bali. The remaining populations in southeast Asia, China, and the Russian Far East are mostly isolated and greatly reduced in number. 

There are several opportunities to photograph Tigers in Tampa bay. Some affording excellent "made for TV"  backgrounds like the top of the page Sumatran "Enshala" shown here at Lowry Park Zoo.  Close by and with a $75 to 95 .00 dollar day pass to get in you have Busch Gardens. 

The beer however is not FREE anymore. It used to be.  Certain days when attendance is low or off periods, the park will open a two beer ( 7 Oz.) limit tasting.  

New owners, kept some of the park as it was but less attention on the animal side and more on the gut-spilling rides.  I really did miss the brewery tour and a cold glass of fresh beer, about as fresh as can be.   I offered to lie down under the spigot and turn it on but was denied. 

Busch Gardens has had some interesting exhibits in the past few years including the triple cubs and the White Tigers which went from small and cuddle to large and voracious.   Currently there are five to seven tigers at Busch. They are Bengals, breeders and Busch works with different zoos for breeding protocols.

Some times the animals cooperate, sometimes they don’t.  The keepers rotate the viewing times and groupings to give the animals a chance to interact and not become bored.  Allowing all seven out at the same time might not be a good idea. Tigers are territorial instinctively and like most cats are walking hair triggers. 

PHOTO-OPS:   A 200mm plus is your best lens combo and a 200 on a AC digital is  effectively a 320. The tigers are close at Busch Gardens and in most of the parks a 17-55 and a 70-200 should cover the day. 

White tigers are not a generic mutation but simply a variant of a theme.  A profitable theme. The magicians Siegfried & Roy are believed to have perpetrated this misnomer. They say on their website they are dedicated to preserving what they call the “Royal White Tiger.”

I guess you could call your wife’s natural blonde hair, not from the bottle,  a “Royal Wife”.   It’ simply another version of the same and not a mutant.

"What baloney," says Richard Farinato, director of captive wildlife protection at the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C. "It's nothing but color breeding for entertainment purposes. . . . They are simply for show. There are no rare or endangered "Royal White Tigers". Getting bit by what you say can take on new meaning. 

One of the reasons for so many of these endangered cats in captivity is many were chosen for pets. As kittens they are lovable and playful and then wanted one of the kids for lunch,  as many owners find out. 

But when they mature they can take on a totally different persona. Again, Roy and Siegfried found out the hard way in front of the cameras when one of their oldest and most prized cats went off script and attacked Roy. It took two years to recover. He is lucky to be alive.

Another location in Tampa for Tiger appreciation and probably the premier location and sanctuary for these big cats is “ Big Cat Rescue”. 

It is the world’s largest sanctuary for big cats who have been abused, abandoned, retired from performing acts, or saved from being slaughtered for fur coats. It is located at 12802 Easy Street, Tampa Florida. 

The Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary in Tampa houses over 150 tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, bobcats, lynx, ocelots, servals, caracals and others. Many of these species are threatened, endangered, or now extinct in the wild. 

Most of these beautiful former pets are abandoned when the cute cuddly cub becomes of mature age. Breeders make a living convincing people that these cute cubs can make good pets. But most states do not prohibit sale or private ownership, so breeders thrive and the number of abused and abandoned cats continues to grow. 
Several cats were owned by drug dealers and confiscated by law enforcement when the owners were arrested. 

Use of the cats for commercial purposes is another major source of abandoned and abused cats. 

For instance, people claiming to be supporting conservation and preservation of species charge the public to have photos taken with the cats when they are young, or charge to take them to schools or other venues under the guise of education, only to abandon the cats when they mature. 

Performing acts and roadside zoos use the cats, often abusing them to force them to perform or keeping them in horrible conditions, and then discard the cats when they are no longer “useful”. 


Agency France Presse, November 26, 2004- A large injection of funds and commitment from the international community is needed to prevent the world's critically endangered tiger population from dwindling any further, conservationists warned Friday. 

Out of the eight sub-species of tiger that roamed the earth's jungles and forests 60 years ago, the Bali tiger, the Caspian tiger and the Javan tiger are now extinct, while less than 20 South China tigers remain. 

"Across its range, this magnificent animal is being poisoned, electrocuted, blown up by land mines, trapped, snared, shot and captured," according to global conservation organization, the WWF. 

Tiger populations have plunged from around 100,000 at the turn of the last century to between 5,700 and 7,000 today, most in isolated pockets stretching from India to southeastern China and from the Russian Far East to Indonesia. 

But those remaining face a multitude of threats, warned S.C. Dey, secretary-general of the Global Tiger Forum, on the opening day of the New Delhi-headquartered international organization's general assembly in Hanoi. 

"Increased human-tiger conflict due to rising human population, shrinkage and degradation of tiger habitat and declining prey base pose a serious threat to the survival of the tiger," he said. Poaching, a lack of public will to protect the animals and the drive towards modernization in Asia's developing countries compound the problem, Dey added.