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Travel Review
August 2018
Tiger World
Rockwell, NC
Part I of III
Trend Magazine Online™

By Jay Whipple

Trend Magazine Online™

Not In Someone's Backyard!

Part I of III
Tiger World Rockwell, NC Review Pic

I learned of this site back in 2011 from their signage on I-85 while commuting from Winston-Salem, NC, to Charlotte to conduct tours for Queen City Tours™. My first instinct was that it was located in someone's backyard and that they may have had one or two tigers on display -- since I was quite familiar with the area and this place was not yet on my radar. Fast forward to 2018 and I came across a quite impressive full-color brochure at one of the area hotels and was quite impressed to see: 1. They were still around, and 2. There was a lot more to see than one or two tigers (per their site map). I then began plotting to schedule a visit on the right day -- weather permitting. That process took a few months but that perfect day fell on a Saturday in July when it was nice and sunny but not too hot. My drive was only 20 minutes from where I was staying in nearby Kannapolis, NC, and once I turned onto Cook Road (off highway 152) I thought to myself -- hmmmmmmmm; maybe my instincts were right back in 2011 but hopefully not.

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It was a narrow country road that included homes on both sides, leaving me to wonder if I was going to end up in someone's backyard. I then came across a wooden sign that directed me to the parking area which added to my aforementioned fears. I arrived at approximately 8:40 AM -- 20 minutes before their 9:00 AM opening time -- and counted less than a dozen cars in their lot which looked like it might be leading to someone's backyard. I rolled down my car window and was really convinced that I was headed into someone's backyard after hearing a dog bark and a rooster crowing. I was seriously considering exiting stage left when another vehicle arrived at 8:50 AM and two other vehicles strolled in before 9 AM. Those folks looked like actual tourist and not employees.

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My fears began to subside after spotting a White (Bengal) Tiger to the right of the main entrance, and he was not in someone's backyard. After musing at some of the tourist ahead of me -- to include a scared child -- I followed the signs into the gift shop which is where tickets are sold. The staff was friendly and greeted me upon my entry. I was elated that they honor our nation's veterans by offering us the group rate of $8 (USD); $7 (USD) off the general admission price of $15 (USD) per adult. I used that savings to purchase one of their feed cups for $5 (USD) that was filled with peanuts and other goodies that certain animals love. I like that it also made for a neat souvenir to take home but you cannot eat the goodies because, according to the gift shop lady, they keep them outside where they are exposed to the elements and insects. I liked that they give you a choice of colors; I chose Black, my favorite color. The nice lady then handed me a site map and highlighted the places where animals were allowed to be fed. She then mentioned something about a red pick-up truck that would take me to see the animals being fed but I had missed the first one. I decided to walk for the exercise.

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My first encounter just outside of the gift shop was a familiar foul. I am from Miami, FL, and felt at home when I was greeted by a proud peacock who decided to serenade me after munching on some of the goodies from my feed cup as they accidentally fell out from my cargo pocket. I became a bit concerned when he/she continued to stalk me in hopes that I would continue to leak goodies onto the pavement. I then decided to head to the right of the park first where I encountered some very active parrots and cockatoos. These guys were repeating certain words that I said; at least it sounded like that is what they were doing. Either way I was quite impressed. I then decided to change course and head in a more clockwise direction which is my usual strategy for these type outdoor tourist attractions.

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The first area of interest to the left/clockwise direction was in a building that has instructions inscribed on the door "Enter here for reptiles and more." My favorite nightmares but I decided to risk it all for you guys reading this article. I hope that you guys appreciate the risk that I take to bring you the action by "liking" our facebook page. Parts of this place was still under construction but I persevered on to view a few slithering beings as well as a baby crocodile. Again, I am from South Florida so this reptile was sort of like family to me; at least as long as he/she was behind the glass. I assume that the new construction here will include additional reptiles that will really add to the interest at this stop along my journey. Maybe something like a South American Anaconda or Komodo Dragon from South Eastern Indonesia. Just a suggestion folks!

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After leaving the scary building I was pleased to come across a rest bench that allows us visitors' to take the load off, drink water, or just sit and observe the animals and people as they stroll through the park. The next area featured primates; however, I arrived a bit too early as they apparently were late sleepers and had yet to get out of bed and begin their day. I did get a chance to see some turtles and Spurred Tortoise from Northern Africa enjoying a very intimate moment (adults only) so early in the morning. It turns out that they are most active during dusk and dawn so that explains their extra-curricular activity. In case you were wondering; the main difference between a turtle and tortoise is that the former hangs out in the water while the latter hangs out on land. They are both classified; however, as reptiles.

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The next area, for me, was the highlight of my visit because it was feeding time for the lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, panthers, and bobcats. It was here that I figured out the mystery of the red pick-up truck and how it factored in on their scheme of things. They use it to haul the meat (mostly chicken) and people to each feeding area where brave staff members (all women) either toss a whole raw foul over a very high fence or in some cases hand-feed some of those big cats. I noticed that they leave the feet on and guts in the chickens. I will tell you why in part three of this review. Please remind me via Facebook if I forget! It was here that I learned that the physical difference between a leopard and a jaguar lies in their stripes. A leopard's spots are clear inside while the jaguars have little spots within the larger ones. So I guess that means that you will have to get real close -- in the wild -- to tell the difference right? Thankfully no; because leopards are found in Africa and Asia while jaguars hang out from South America to the Southwestern United States. It was in this area that I ran into that scared kid again, witnessed first-hand how brave vultures can be when it comes to their feeding time, and how brave I can be while approached by a big bad White Tiger.

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A Black leopard is also known as a panther and my favorite of the bunch because Black is my favorite color and why I also like Black Labs, rabbits, etc... You can even adopt one of these big cats like Mystique which gives you special privileges and access. The feedings ended about 10 AM and in the winter months I am told that they begin at 2 PM starting in December. I highly suggest getting here to witness these events because they are simply da bomb! In addition, you do not have to worry about these big cats looking at you as if you are their next meal. Smile! It was now time for me to take a water break as the temperature was about to climb on this summer day in July. It turns out that I picked the right spot next to these very cute baby lions that seemed to be just as entertained by me as I was of them. One of the staff ladies said that they were just seven months old and already larger than most dogs. While observing them frolic about and play-fight with each other, I can understand why some people are inclined to think that they can keep them as pets. Well, at the end of the day, we must remember that these are in fact wild animals that require special handling, care, and most-importantly containment; and the reason for places like Tiger World to exist.

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I noticed that the crowd had increased quite a bit since I arrived just before opening at 9 AM sharp. There were now people everywhere in this quaint personable endangered wildlife preserve. My attention was suddenly turned back to the area where the Common Gibbon was kept as they began to make a sound similar to a very loud smoke alarm. In fact; it was so loud that it startled the folks that were near the cage causing them to flee in fear. I decided to keep my distance as well after remembering a scene from my favorite movie -- Cooley High -- where a gorilla flung his feces at Pooter; one of the title characters. If you are like me and have never heard of these type animals they hang out in China, Laos, and Thailand, and are classified as tailless apes.

Well folks, that does it for part one of my three part review of Tiger World in Rockwell, NC. Check back next month for part two with more exciting adventures, pics, and vids. I suggest "liking" our Facebook page to be notified when my article is published.

To Part II >>>

If you would like to schedule a group visit to Tiger World click here for a quote!

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