Why we shouldn't play with wild animals like pets

Sometimes I read stories like the one below, and wonder why people either end up badly injured or dead. In this case it was a tiger in Thailand behaving as any predatory animal would behave. Perhaps I'm out of line here but personally I don't believe any wild animals should be used for entertainment in any form. They are wild simple as that. One thing for a zoo, a game park, a reserve or a specialised breeding facility to preserve and increase endangered species, but I don't agree that anyone should be allowed to have direct contact. The tiger was sedated that in itself was wrong to begin with. Have a read and let me know what you think. I believe in conservation and the preservation of species - I don't believe in abuse for commercial gain. It's wrong and it should be stopped.

Article as follows from the New Zealand Herald Website

NZ aid worker mauled in Thai tiger enclosure

4:00AM Tuesday Jan 27, 2009
By Vaimoana Tapaleao
Ruth Corlett with Pancake the tiger just before the attack. Photo / Supplied

Ruth Corlett with Pancake the tiger just before the attack. Photo / Supplied

A New Zealand woman is in hospital after being mauled by a tiger in Thailand.

Ruth Corlett, 45, was at an enclosure on Sunday with her family when the female tiger jumped at her and bit her leg.

Mrs Corlett was rushed to hospital, where she received 54 stitches on the wound.

Thai media reported that Mrs Corlett touched the year-old tiger's head before it jumped at her in the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre.

Mrs Corlett travelled to Thailand with her husband and three children in 2007 to work with an organisation that runs orphanages, emergency relief and development programmes on the Thai border.

Her husband, Stuart Corlett, said last night that his wife was still in hospital and was doing "okay".

"It was just at one of those tiger places where people are allowed to play with the tigers," he said. "She was near one of them and the thing just jumped up and bit her in the leg. But she's okay now."

The owners of the tiger enclosure have offered to pay for all of Mrs Corlett's medical expenses.

A staff member at the enclosure said the tiger that attacked Mrs Corlett - named Pancake - was usually very friendly and had been trained to stay with humans.

"Pancake has never bitten anyone before, despite being played with by tourists very often," the staff member said.

"The [New Zealand] woman touched the tiger on its head and suddenly the sleeve of her arm, or the cloth of her shirt, got into the eye of the tiger and the tiger got irritated."

Local Thai media reported that Mr Corlett is looking to sue the Chiang Mai tiger enclosure, but the Herald could not confirm this last night.

Staff at the centre have said that the case has not been filed with police.

And the latest update to this story below

Husband tells of horror tiger attack on aid worker wife
Updated 6:10PM Tuesday Jan 27, 2009
By Andrew Koubaridis
Ruth Corlett with Pancake the tiger just before the attack. Photo / Supplied

Ruth Corlett with Pancake the tiger just before the attack. Photo / Supplied

A New Zealand aid worker has told of watching a tiger bite his wife in the leg and then attempt to drag her away.

The incident happened at a tiger enclosure in Thailand that allows people to pat tigers that have been domesticated and trained.

Stuart Corlett and his wife Ruth were at the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre with their three children on Sunday when a female tiger called Pancake suddenly clamped down on Mrs Corlett's leg, just missing her femoral artery.

She had crouched beside the tiger, posing for a photograph, when the trainer told her to stand up.

"The tiger jumped up and bit her in the leg. It narrowly missed her femoral artery - the bite was two inches away. If it had severed that artery she would have had minutes to live," Mr Corlett said.

She is recovering at home from the ordeal. The family have lived in Thailand for nine years and work for a relief agency that helps refugees on Thailand's border.

Mr Corlett said reports that his wife had touched the tiger on the top of its head and that her sleeve caught the tiger's eye were wrong.

"The trainer hit the tiger on the head with a stick just before the bite."

He added that photographs showed his wife wasn't even wearing a long-sleeved shirt so that couldn't have caught the tiger's eye.

A friend of the couple, Auckland teacher Daniel Charman, tried to pull the tigers jaws open but couldn't and the tiger attempted to drag Mrs Corlett away.

"He grabbed hold of [Mr Charman's] leg so it couldn't drag her away. The trainer whacked it on the nose then turned and left. They [staff] said he was going to warn others but in my opinion he was fearful for his own safety."

The tiger let go of Mrs Corlett's leg and she was left bleeding on the ground.

"Daniel picked her up and threw her over his shoulder and they got out of the enclosure."

Mr Corlett said staff at the centre were ill-equipped to deal with a medical emergency.

There was no first aid kit and they were told the only medical officer was on a day off.

She was eventually taken to hospital in the back of a staff member's Toyota Corolla suffering from shock and barely conscious. Her wound required 54 stitches.

Mr Corlett told the Herald last night he was told by a tour guide the tigers were probably sedated.

"My opinion is the tiger was coming out of a sedated state and was confused and probably grumpy."

The couple have spoken to their lawyer and hope to settle out of court. They want Mrs Corlett's medical expenses paid but would only settle if the tiger centre sets up a safety committee and has a clear policy manual.

Related Reading: Timeline Track of a Bengal Tiger on Of Cats

Tiger-taming teacher also involved in canyon tragedy

4:00AM Saturday Jan 31, 2009
By Andrew Koubaridis

The Auckland teacher who intervened in a tiger attack was one of the heroes of the Elim School canyoning tragedy.

Daniel Charman watched in horror last weekend as his friend Ruth Corlett was bitten on the leg by a tiger at a Thai tourist venue that allows people to get close to tigers which are supposedly domesticated and trained.

But moments after Mrs Corlett posed for a photograph with a tiger it leapt up and mauled her leg before trying to drag her away.

"It raised its head and looked over at Ruth ... then it just lunged," Mr Charman told the Weekend Herald yesterday.

As the tiger tried to pull her away, Mrs Corlett grabbed hold of his leg. "I'm a big guy and I never thought I'd say it, but it's nice to be big - my weight probably kept us both from being dragged away," he said.

The tiger was still clamped down on Mrs Corlett's leg so he reached out and grabbed its head.

"Looking back, it seems a bit thick but I tried to grapple this tiger's mouth open. I wasn't really yanking it open but sort of tried to prise its [mouth] open."

He acted because no one else seemed to be doing anything to save Mrs Corlett.

"It was one of those moments where everyone was doing nothing. I didn't see anyone do anything, they were just backing away. There were no screams or yells or anything." The trainer did return and hit the tiger on the head, making it release Mrs Corlett.

"Maybe again it was just an instinct thing but it was just that they [centre staff] were so unprepared that I looked at Ruth's leg and I knew from her groans that this was heavy stuff. I told her to get on my shoulders and we got out of the enclosure."

She was taken to hospital where she needed 54 stitches to close the wound.

Mr Charman said he couldn't believe he had found himself in another dangerous situation so soon after the Elim Christian School tragedy at Mangatepopo.

Sourced from the New Zealand Herald Website


  1. Oh goodness. What a terrible tale!

  2. Hi Doda Not good at all just very very sad for both the tiger and the poor person that ended up being so badly injured. I hope she recovers and quickly.


  3. When I read that story yesterday, my thought was, "That silly woman is lucky to get out of there without horrific damage or death."

    Such exhibits do nothing to raise awareness of how endangered tigers are through the actions of mankind -- they just add to the cuddly Disney "Jungle Book" view. Although, to give Kipling credit, at least Shere Khan had majesty.

  4. I think it was more the fault of the facility that runs the place Ice. From just what I read there the husband was saying the handler hit the tiger on the head - I'd be nasty too if some sod hit me on the head with a stick. But you're right tigers aren't cute kittie cats to be petted and treated as if they're tame - they aren't. It's not right.

  5. That's quite sad. Incidents like that happen all over the world when people step into the domain of wild animals. And wild animals - even in zoos can never quite be tame. It is always dangerous to step into the cage of a big cat but I think stepping into the cage of a tiger perhaps entails the greatest risk. For lions - even though they are wild too - often show some degree of restraint but with tigers it's a different situation. I personally believe that owing to their social lifestyle lions are slightly more at ease in the company of others than tigers which are wired to lead a solitary and ferocious life. There are a few interesting stories and events that have happened in my local zoo too. One time owing to the negligence of one of the keepers, a baboon got out of his facility. Confused - the animal jumped into the pit of a male tiger who immediately grabbed the poor baboon by the back of his neck and killed him in seconds. So even in captivity these animals retain all their potential insticts and it is never safe to enter their cages. In fact I think the animals in zoos are perhaps more aggressive than their counterparts in the wild who lead a more 'natural' life. The poor zoo animals must always feel cornered and frustrated and thus are more likely to lash out in my opinion.

    If you look at the picture here - the woman is approaching the young tigress from behind - never a good thing to do with any animal. And the tigress looks to be on the defensive - not too pleased. It's indeed a good thing that the animal didn't sever the femoral artery otherwise the bleeding would've been profuse and potentially fatal. And it's sad that the animals were drugged/beaten in the process of taming them at this particular zoo. Things like that unfortunately happen in many small zoos and circuses across the world and are a sign of abuse and cruelty towards these beautiful creatures.

    Sorry for my rather longish rant. I've been quite preoccupied for the last few days with making travel arrangements etc for my upcoming trip to Tasmania, Australia, and have only got a little respite and free time now. Hope all is well with you guys at the farm. Seems like you're quite busy these days too. Hope you've found Micah by now. Sorry to learn about that troll - trolls abound on the web - their sole purpose is to make idiotic statements like the one on your blog..just ignore them! I get very interesting emails too - perhaps I'll share them sometime ;)

    Take care and purrs and hugs to everybody!

    btw the two new kitties are very cute. I read about them in your blog feed. Are they now permanent members of your family? The farm must be alive now with kitten cuteness and playtime havoc!

  6. Hi Omer!! Great to hear from you. Yes like you I've been really busy. You'll be pleased to hear those two little kitties are now part of our family and won't ever be leaving the farm. In fact we have two more arrived and my Mum has taken them so now we have six cats living here on the farm two with my Mum and four here with me and the girls. We're all enjoying them too.

    Thanks for the extra info about the tigers and the social behaviour of Lions. It was so sad. I hope Pancake the Tiger doesn't end up being put down or punished for something that wasn't her fault. This incident shouldn't have ever happened in the first place then no-one would have been hurt.

    You'll love Tasmania. My brother worked in Hobart for a while and said it's more like New Zealand than the drier climate of the main Australian Continent. I'd like to visit Tasmania myself with the kids sometime. Be a great experience. I'll be posting up some more pictures of the kitties. They've grown just in two weeks.

    So great to hear from you.

    Purrs and hugs and I hope your kitties are okay too.

    Take care

  7. Agree absolutely madbush - wild animals have as much right to be on this planet as we do - and to enclose them in zoos just so that daft people can go and gawp (Yorkshire word) at them is bordering on criminal.
    I feel the same is true of all wild creatures, which is why it really does grieve me to kill the rabbits on our land - they don't see it as our land, do they? But as farmers we have to do something.

  8. Weaver one thing to have a comprehensive programme like London or Singapore Zoos where they are researching and breeding to save endangered species another to have so-called *tame* tigers in a tourists petting zoo. Rabbits yes I kill them quite a lot too many just like the possums such is farming like you said.

    Take care

  9. Oh boy! That woman was so damn lucky to get out alive!
    An animal park in Mildura, Victoria, used to have a panther that they brought out on a leash for small children to pat and play with while getting their photo taken. To me the animal wasn't happy (typical cat body language with the tail twitching, ears flicking back and forth and looking around constantly)and I wasn't surprised to hear it was gone the next time we visited the town.
    Possum pie and underground mutton (rabbit) is always a tasty meal ;)

  10. This is terrible! And I hate to say it, but if she was willing to put herself and her family in harms way then I don't feel sorry for her. I don't think she should be allowed to sue and I don't care if the tiger was "sedated." Sedated or not, it was still a wild animal!! Sometimes I have so little faith in humanity. We are supposed to be this super species but I feel that most of the time we are at the low end of the totem pole. Why do we have to use animals for our own sick perversions? Entertain yourself people! That's why we have brains!

    Anyway I hope all is going well with you Liz!!! Sorry I haven't been around your blog in awhile, been busy with school and a reawakened interest in photography!
    Love and Hugs

  11. I saw this story, stupid woman! Why on earth would you be in a cage with a half sedated animal? duh!

  12. I agree with your sentiments on this thing. The part that really got me (since you spelled out the other reasons very well) were the rumors that she might be suing them? ARRGG! What? Are you kidding me? I hope it's not true.


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