LOCAL LIFE: We go behind the scenes at Tiger Island, Dreamworld

14 May 2018

Ever wondered what it is like to be a Tiger Handler on Tiger Island, Dreamworld? We chat to Patrick Martin-Vegue, Tiger Island Manager, to find out!

Can you tell us about Tiger Island and the tigers you have there?

Tiger Island is an educational and conservation area that opened at Dreamworld in 1995. Our tigers can roam around on the island with their handlers.

This interaction creates unique opportunities for guests to learn about tigers, their habits and how to help save tigers in the wild. There are very few interactive tiger experiences like Dreamworld’s in the world.

And you have some new tiger cubs there at Dreamworld! Can you tell us about them? 

We have two new cubs that were recently born at Tiger Island and are now 11 weeks old. Their names are Mya and Melati. They currently weigh just over 10 kilograms and when fully grown will weigh up to 125 kilograms. They currently spend their day with their handlers and other, older tigers on Tiger Island. They also go for walks around the park and get a chance to meet our guests. 

What can visitors expect when they come to Tiger Island, Dreamworld?

Visitors can see tigers and handlers together on the island throughout the day. They can watch the tigers going about their natural activities during the educationial presentations that are held on Tiger Island every day.

Can visitors get up close with the tiger cubs?

We currently offer the VIP Tiger Cub Experiences that guests can book online before coming to Dreamworld, which allows up-close experiences with the cubs and a chance to learn more about the cubs, as well as tiger facts from their handlers. Every VIP Tiger Cub Experience ensures a contribution to the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation, which supports projects operating in Russia and Indonesia to protect wild tigers.

What is a typical day like for a tiger handler at Tiger Island?

A tiger handler’s day consist of cleaning, food preparation, and lots of time spent with the big cats keeping them busy and enriched. The tigers are regularly walked to ensure they remain fit and healthy.

Do you have any tiger conservation programs at Dreamworld?

Dreamworld, through the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation, is one of the largest zoo-based contributors to tiger conservation worldwide and has raised over $2 million towards tiger conservation.

Dreamworld is an active participant in the Sumatran Tiger Global Species Management Plan (GSMP). This program acts as a potential insurance to the possibility that tigers would become extinct in the wild and several cubs bred at Dreamworld have been transferred to other zoos to form new pairs of unrelated tigers.

Importantly, tigers in accredited parks like Dreamworld help to tell the story about conserving tigers and raising funds to help protect the remaining wild tigers and a lot of the tigers born at Dreamworld actually stay with us to continue that important work.

Do you have any funny stories from behind the scenes?

Yes, lots! Most of them involve handlers playing with the tigers or being sat on by these very large cats!

Is there anything else you’d like to share about Dreamworld and the Tiger Island experience?

We are really lucky to work with such majestic and incredible cats. We hope that guest visiting Dreamworld will walk away with an appreciation of tigers and a desire to help protect them in the future.

For more information about the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation visit www.dwf.com.au

Written by

Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City
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