It’s not often that I get envious of someone else’s job – but over the last month there’s been one man on TV whose life I could envy deeply. That man is Giles Clark, a tiger expert based at the Australia Zoo in Queensland. (Which is the one founded by Steve Irwin, which explains a lot)
He’s been the subject – well, the human subject, at least – of the BBC series “Tigers about the House”, where he raised two Sumatran tiger cubs by hand in his own house.
The Australia Zoo’s tigers are all fully acclimatised to having humans around – which allows them to go for walks with their keepers and so on, as well as lots of enrichment and stimulus that simply doesn’t happen in most zoos around the world. It’s been quite a spectacular thing to see – particularly the tigers leaping into their huge pool (tigers love to swim) with the cameras right there with them – and yeah, decidedly envious.
Additionally, because they’re so acclimatised to people, it means the Zoo can also offer “Up-close experiences” with the tigers (and other animals) for a fee. All the money made from those experiences – as well as photo-opportunities and the like – goes towards tiger conservation projects, and the series included Clark’s trips out to Sumatra to see those projects as well, and be involved with them.
I’m not a great fan of zoos in general – I don’t like seeing animals in cages, regardless of the size of those cages – but recognise that they now have a massive use in keeping certain species from extinction. But if there’s got to be zoos, I’d far rather they were like this, providing so much more than just “animals in enclosures”.
But yes, definitely envious of that kind of job. It’s one of the very few times where I look and think “If I’d could go back now and re-do secondary school etc., knowing what I do now, that’s the kind of work I’d aim for”