Tiger Lodge Port Lympne Animal Reserve – Aspinall Foundation
UPDATE: Check out todays (21st August 2017) Metro Newspaper who have published my images!
I was looking forward to visiting Tiger Lodge, but I had no idea how much I would LOVE photographing these amazing animals.
We visited with the rhino’s first and I was able to feed the mumma rhino protein balls, fruit + veg. She was gorgeous and so gentle. All her teeth are at the back of her mouth so I was completely at ease feeding her. These beautiful animals emit a high pitched squeak – this is how they communicate, which was so adorable. The keeper was able to call another family of rhino’s down from the top of a huge enclosure, just by calling their names – goes to show how intelligent these rhinos are.
We also went out to meet Cillian the Giraffe. He came over very happily as soon as he heard a bucket of peanuts being shook – I can relate. We fed him leafy branches which he gladly took from us hanging out the side of the 4 x 4. I was in absolute awe of the graceful way he moved.
Tiger Lodge is stunning, the expensive decor is earthy, natural and personally chosen by Damien Aspinall, the owner of Port Lympne Animal Reserve. The large window looking out to the Siberian Tiger enclosure is the main feature of the room and we were all immediately drawn to it. Off to the left of the window we spotted one of the two tigers having a snooze in the grass. We later found out this was Tugar the male tiger. Ingrid the tigress was not to be seen yet. Though later that evening she made a dramatic entrance.
After an amazing meal in the pizza restaurant, Babydolls (named after the oldest Gorilla at the animal reserve) we returned to the lodge to find Tugar sitting right outside the bedroom window. Though he had his back to us he was an impressive beast. Suddenly, my daughter, Lena spotted Ingrid the female, who stalked straight up to Tugar (affectionally nicknamed Tugs) and promptly lashed out with her front paw. Tugar avoided the blow and Ingrid stalked off. It was a little scary and we wondered why she was not happy with him. We later found out that she had a bad tooth and had been quite short tempered with him lately. Girl, I feel you, toothache is no fun.
Tugar and Ingrid have actually been together for many years and have had cubs together. Cubs Roza and Zaria were moved to another collection to ensure the survival of their species and promote breeding.
The next morning one of the keepers came to see us and I watched as Ingrid ran towards the glass and peered in to find him. She tracks him as she knows he brings her food. Both tigers then spent a long time right in front of us, and we were able to take some beautiful photo’s of them. It seems they had made up after their disagreement from the night before and I captured them affectionately rubbing their faces together.
I was not sure how I felt about watching animals in captivity. I expressed this to one of the keepers who agreed she used to feel the same. The majority of the animals at the Aspinall foundation are endangered, it is vital to their survival that these animals breed pairs that are good genetically, because they want to keep as many genes going as possible. Reassuringly the enclosures I saw were huge, Port Lympne is a 600 acre site.
Do not hesitate to go and visit this amazing animal reserve, you will not regret it. Here are a few (!) of the photo’s I took. I hope you enjoy them.
To see all the photo’s head over to my Facebook page.