Well, this certainly gives new meaning to the term Party Animals! All the rage for kiddie birthdays in recent months? Swimming with tigers. Not the blow-up, floaty variety but real, carnivorous, wild, instinctively predatory tigers.
Entire families are swimming side-by-side with tigers at Dade City's Wild Things in Florida, a 22-acre private zoo that allows patrons to hang with a variety of dangerous creatures.
People are coming from as far as Iceland for the experience. I certainly get the allure from a child's perspective. At just 8 pounds, the little fur balls don't seem so scary right now. Plus, how cool will it be to brag to your classmates that you hung out with the fierce and feared tigers. But what parent thinks this is a good idea? I love animals as much as the next mom, but this seems way too crazy to me. This reminds me of the couple who allowed their 5-year-old to swim with sharks over the summer -- it's totally irresponsible parenting.
Yet the reps at Wild Things say the parties have been a "roaring success" (pathetic pun intended). After signing a general release and playing $200, daredevils get to frolic for 30 minutes in the water, on the lawn, or bottle feed the animals. They also offer a swimming with gators option too -- which seems even more ridiculous. Facility president Randy Stearns admits there is some danger:
Well, with any animal there’s always a risk. It’s not like we’re going to just throw you in the pool and say, here’s the tiger. You’re in there with at least one of the trainers actually in the water with you.
Oh please! I'm not buying that this is a safe, family-friendly activity. And my concerns have nothing to do with being an over-protective, helicopter parent -- which I'm not. There is a reason they call them wild animals. What happens if one takes a swipe and slashes out someone's eye? Or playfully chomps down too hard on a kid's finger and takes it off? Is the risk really worth having a cool party or vacation picture or video? No way!
Would you let your kids swim with tigers?