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It’s hard to pass up a chance to check out animals up close, especially when those animals aren’t easy to find in your neck of the woods. Most of us will never get the opportunity to go on a safari to see a wild tiger in person, much less bottle feed one. Let’s face it, tigers in the wild are pretty dangerous, as well as extremely endangered. Some species of tiger are so threatened that it’s a rarity to find them in the wild at all. Which makes a trip to T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station and Safari in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina seem like the perfect trip for a tiger enthusiast!

Not only can you get up close and personal with adorable tiger cubs, you can see rare white tigers and even ligers too. Posing for picture packages helps you to commemorate the experience and the proceeds go toward the Rare Species Fund, a non-profit set up by T.I.G.E.R.S for conservation. That sounds awesome! For the animal lover, this would seem like a spectacular opportunity.

If we look closer, however, it isn’t entirely the wholesome and altruistic venture it leads patrons to believe that it is. For the average consumer, it would seem like spending a couple of hours with a rare tiger while contributing to an establishment that does conservation work would be helping animals. The fact is, the animals at T.I.G.E.R.S are bred solely for profit and some of them are so unsuitable for reintroduction to the wild that their breeding actually has nothing to do with conservation.

Tigers are put on display in small enclosures, removed from their mothers for hours of photo ops and trained to perform in shows, movies, fairs and television while their director racks up a list of USDA violations. The animals here live a life centered around being profit generators, plain and simple. Let’s take a look at all of the reasons that the T.I.G.E.R.S organization is T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E.

1. Where do the T.I.G.E.R.S Animals Come From?

An acronym for The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, T.I.G.E.R.S was founded in 1983 and has two locations, Myrtle Beach Safari and Preservation Station. The first location sits on 50 acres and houses 120 animals, 60 of which are tigers with a variety of them being rare or endangered. The second is located in a busy tourist area called Barefoot Landing and bills itself, “a free wildlife exhibit and living tiger museum” that offers photo packages, for a fee, with a tiger cub or monkey.

Animals living at T.I.G.E.R.S have been either taken from the wild or bred in captivity. A 30-year-old African elephant named Bubbles came to the facility after being orphaned as a baby by ivory poachers. She was trained and put to work in movies, such as Ace Ventura II and currently lives at the Myrtle Beach Safari location.

Many of the animals are bred at the facility, including crossbred ligers, like Hercules. Holding the Guiness Book of World Records designation for largest cat in the world, Hercules weighs over 900 pounds and is used in “educational” shows. Ligers, a cross between a male lion and a tigress, are a completely human construct. They simply do not happen in the wild, which makes the motivation behind their use as an “educational tool” dubious at best.

Ligers are often born with abnormalities owing to their bizarre genetic make-up, are considerably larger than their parents and typically have shorter life spans. Due to these issues, they’re completely unable to survive in the wild, which means that breeding them only serves to create more captive animals for human entertainment. Their “rarity often makes them big attractions, which translates to large profit potential. According to Liger.org, Ligers “are basically freaks bred by unscrupulous zoos in order to make money out of people willing to pay to see them.” The practice is even illegal in some countries as a violation of conservation law.

T.I.G.E.R.S also breeds white tigers, another large draw for tourists due to their rarity. A white tiger has not been seen in the wild since the 1950s, meaning the white tigers seen today are the product of several generations of captive breeding.

Inbreeding is unavoidable when attempting to reproduce another tiger with this and several other color mutations, leaving these animals with severe deficits and no chance of ever being introduced into the wild. If the intent of a breeding program isn’t to boost the numbers of an animal in the wild, it can’t be considered conservation.

2. How are Their Animals Trained?

The animals at T.I.G.E.R.S are used for movies, commercials, fairs and photo ops which all require they be vigorously trained in order to perform their tricks and not harm the general public that get up close and personal with them. This is overseen by the director of T.I.G.E.R.S, Doc Bhagavan Antle.

Doc Antle maintains that he received his doctorate from the Chinese Science Foundation though there is some confusion if this was a PhD in Natural Sciences or an M.D. He is vague about his methods, saying only that he raises the animals by hand to gain their trust and doesn’t use food as most operant conditioning methods do, yet most of the photo ops and pictures from appearances show the animals being rewarded and pacified with a bottle.


Operant conditioning methods that use food and water as a reward for compliant behavior are often used when the animal is hungry or thirsty prior to the reward being offered to ensure effectiveness. This means that in order to get an animal to perform a trained task, food and water are typically withheld for a period of time before hand to ensure the animal will want to earn that reward. This reduces these animals to begging for a sip from a baby bottle when they’d be hunting  in the wild.

3. T.I.G.E.R.S: History of Abuse and Animal Welfare Violations.

The list of USDA violations against Doc Antle and T.I.G.E.R.S is lengthy, spanning almost 30 years.  He was cited for abandoning deer and peacocks on the property of his zoo in Buckingham, Virginia in 1989 and went on to wrack up 38 more violations between 1988 and 2014. These included allegations that he was beating tigers to get them to comply, evidence of endangerment with sharp wires and nails littering some of the animal pens and providing insufficient enclosures and insufficient water.

He was cited in 2010 by the USDA when a 3-year-old tiger named Mahesh escaped his enclosure and ran around freely, terrorizing patrons. There were no injuries in the incident but Antle was cited twice more in the following months for continuing to keep the tiger in the same type of enclosure he’d escaped from.

For a fee there’s very little that patrons can’t do with the animals under Antle’s care. One example is the opportunity people are given to swim with Bubbles the elephant. Photos showing her covered with people as they swim in a pool at Myrtle Beach Safari depict an image of people using an elephant as a giant raft. Rigorous training must be employed at a young age to ensure compliance when elephants are used for this type of human interaction which involves “breaking” the elephant so they lose their free will.

Again, Antle does not outline his specific methods for how he has trained these animals, but it’s clear that Bubbles has undergone extensive conditioning. Both Bubbles, who risks injury to her vertebrae from people standing on her like a surfboard, and the humans who are in a swimming pool with a large wild animal are put in harm’s way with this kind of activity!

A fairly ominous mystery surrounding T.I.G.E.R.S is what happens to the cats after the establishment can no longer use them. The USDA allows a very narrow window between 8 and 12 weeks of age for handling of tiger cubs. With tiger cub and monkey photo ops being the primary means of income for Preservation Station, one would think that Myrtle Beach Safari would be overrun with cats.

In fact, Antle has claimed to have trained over 400 cats in his career. Yet, there are only 60 cats currently living at Myrtle Beach Safari. Where are these cubs going when they turn into adults? Due to the lack of tracking of tigers in the U.S., the short answer is no one really knows!

One of the few instances that can be tracked took place in 2009 when Antle released two of his cats into the custody of a man in order to transport them who’d lost his USDA license due to abandoning 75 of his own tigers in Palm Bay, Florida. Their final destination was to Zoological Imports 2000, an exotic dealership owned by another individual, a convicted drug kingpin. The result was another USDA citation for violating the Animal Welfare Act.

4. What Kind of Conservation Work are They Doing?

According to their website, the Rare Species Fund was established in, “1982 to provide financial support to on-site wildlife conservation projects and wildlife education programs around the globe.”  It goes on to say, “The Rare Species Fund actively supports the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZAB) in its efforts to improve African zoo collection management, captive animal husbandry and public educational messages.” So, basically, many of their “conservation” funds are being spent on … captivity.

Another example of “conservation” work done by The Rare Species Fund makes it sound as if they released some of their tigers to a wildlife preserve. According to T.I.G.E.R.S they, “donated and personally transported 7 tigers from our Myrtle Beach, South Carolina preserve to the Samutprakarn Wildlife Preserve South of Bangkok.” The announcement went on to say, “A healthy and thriving litter of cubs just heralded the first success of this groundbreaking program.”

This sounds great, except the Samutprakarn Wildlife Preserve in Thailand is not really a preserve. Actually called the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo, the facility hosts animals for display that include “freak” animals like 6-legged crocodiles. The announcement boasts that four color variants of tiger were included in this donation, which means that these animals are inbred for their mutations and can’t ever be introduced into the wild, so any “breeding program” these tigers are participating in is merely to produce more money makers, not for conservation.

Doc Antle vehemently defends his right to own and exploit exotic animals saying, “I still think this is your right to have your own tiger and be killed by your own tiger; just keep it in a cage forever and don’t let anyone else near you or watch you have it happen.” Statements like these make it seem as though he is more interested in conserving his right to keep wild animals than in keeping animals wild.

5. Life in the Wild vs. Life in a Tourism Center

Animals used for tourism are generally housed in one location and then taken to another in order to perform whatever tricks that they’ve been trained for in the interest of generating an income. This often leads to physical and emotional stress as the animals are forced into unnatural circumstances, taken from their family or social groups and forced to comply with the will of their trainer in order to produce a cute photo. Comparitivly speaking, the life of an animal used for entertaining tourists is vastly different from the one they would enjoy in the wild.


Tigers live in a variety of environments in the wild, from forests to mountain regions and savannahs. When used for tourism, these animals are kept in small enclosures that mimic a zoo and are often transported back and forth in cages from their artificial habitats to the places where personal appearances are booked.

EXPOSED! T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station: A Tourist Attraction Above Conservation.



Tigers are nocturnal, which puts them at their most active at dusk and dawn. Able to run between 49-65 mph, they are active swimmers and can leap heights of 16-feet all in the name of hunting for prey. When used to entertain tourists the nocturnal nature of tigers are ignored. Forced to perform or pose for pictures during the day when the paying customers are around, they are then kept in small enclosures for viewing or for transport between their home base and the next paying gig.

EXPOSED! T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station: A Tourist Attraction Above Conservation.

Family Structure

Mother tigers give birth to 3 or 4 cubs at a time and raise them alone in the wild. They will typically retreat to their den and stay there with their young, nursing the cubs and keeping them to the safety of the den for the first 8 weeks of their lives. They’re then allowed to venture out, but stay close to their mother as they learn to hunt and survive in the wild.

Tiger cubs used for “Pay-to-Pet” operations and other tourist opportunities are taken from their mothers at eight weeks and hand raised to allow the cub to bond with their human trainers and begin generating profits.

EXPOSED! T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station: A Tourist Attraction Above Conservation.



In the wild tigers can eat between 40-60 pounds of meat per day. This consists of game they’ve hunted themselves, running over great distances to find the food and capture it for dinner. Animals held in captivity don’t get near the same level of activity that their wild counterparts do and thusly have their food monitored very closely in order to prevent obesity.

This can include withholding food completely outside of a training exercise or performance as a means of ensuring the animal does the tricks their trainer expects. It’s been reported that the liger Hercules, for example, could easily eat 100 pounds of meat per day, yet he’s given only 25 in order to keep him from gaining the weight that his more confinement would cause.

EXPOSED! T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station: A Tourist Attraction Above Conservation.


6. What YOU CAN and MUST do in Order to Stop This Suffering

After reading this we’re sure a Green Monster like you is pretty appalled about the way these animals are suffering and would like to do something about it. The good news is you have the power to make a difference simply by refusing to patronize this establishment.

Boycott T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station

Though they don’t charge an admission, T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station makes its money by charging for photo packages of patrons’ tiger cub encounters. By refusing to visit this location and purchase these photos and the other items they have for sale that divert proceeds to their operating costs you send the message that breeding animals for the purpose of a photo op or any other form of entertainment is wrong.

Leave a Review on Tripadvisor and Similar Sites

While your individual boycott will make a difference, you can magnify its impact by spreading the word and mobilizing with your fellow Green Monsters. Send the message loud and clear that a tourist destination that breeds animals for profit is not conservation!

Share this post in the comments section of T.I.G.E.R.S at Preservation Station Tripadvisor page to advise others not to patronize this establishment

Expose Others

Know of another attraction or tourist location that should be banned for their treatment of animals? Let us know in the comments section so we can spread the word!

Lead image source: 911animalabuse.com

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56 comments on “EXPOSED! T.I.G.E.R.S: A Tourist Attraction Exploiting Animals in the Name of Wildlife Conservation”

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1 Years Ago

Baloney. Half the world\'s plants are hybrids. Animals in the wild interbreed Coyotes breed with dogs and wolves. Goats try to mate with pigs without any prompting from humans. Animals like challenges,enrichment. They like to contribute. Dogs like to compete and horses will get excited to take people on rides they paid for. They get excited to see a horse trailer to take them to a competition. Yet some call these activities cruel. Those who do underestimate the intelligence and needs of animals . They need a purpose. It costs a lot to take in animals that need a home, to feed them etc..I\'ll be sure to go there and support them. and cub petting isn\'t abuse. It\'s interaction in an affectionate way between one species. We are nature too.

Google is free when you need to know about interspecies breeding and it\'s effects Linda
29 Sep 2017

You\'re comparing plants and domesticated animals to WILD animals. They are NOT meant to be petted nor be exploited as entertainment. There are non pseudo-sanctuaries that work well without using exploitation of interbreeding/hybrid collection for funds (Big Cats Rescue). Saying that it is the only way is BALONEY, Linda.

You might also want to re-take some classes on zoology or some basic knowledge as clearly you don\'t know a thing about breeding in the animal world. These wild animals are not meant to interbreed as they exclusively breed within their species. So are domesticated animals, there are instances of cat/dog hybrids dying almost immediately after birth. They are NOT like plants nor humans that can crossbreed without/less any genetic defects.

The only instance as to why these animals would "contribute" as you say, is when they are forced to be together in a an enclosure. I\'m pretty sure Linda, when you are thrown in with a random man in an enclosure with ONLY you two together you\'d pretty much throw yourself on top of him to "contribute" as well right? Because that\'s nature and being horny is natural amirite? Even if that man is not entirely to your liking or is of a different race.
If you say no, you\'re a hypocrite.

06 Oct 2017

Hey Linda,
Why don\'t you ask them where do ALL the tigers and lions go when they\'re not small, cute and cuddly anymore and they can\'t make a PROFIT off them with the pay-to-play (photo-ops)? And if you TRULY think they keep and provide a home for life for all the animals they breed, think again. They couldn\'t afford to. Most are sold off and end up in CANNED HUNTING FARMS (Bred for a Bullet and A Trophy) which there are about 1000 of them in the United States. Texas has 500 of them alone. So, when you go and pay your fee to keep these places in business, trying to think about what\'s going to happen to that cute little cub you take a picture with when he\'s too old to pet anymore - BANG! Right between the eyes (if the stupid hunter can even shoot). Be proud of yourself.

1 Years Ago

I\'ve been trying to write a bad review about this place for YEARS and TripAdvisor literally will not approve any of my writings. I am a wildlife conservationist and as soon as I heard about this place I was enraged. It is beyond horrible that they can get away with LYING so blatantly to the public and on top of it that they can stay open with all of these USDA violations?! I\'m disgusted and appalled at our world these days and I want to get this place shut down SO BADLY!

1 Years Ago

Thanks for writing this article. I had no idea this place existed until I came across this. I\'m pretty sure you\'ve HIGHLY exaggerated everything you pointed out. I\'m heading up there next weekend to go swim with Bubbles! Can\'t wait. In the mean time, go save a tree you fucking hippy.

06 Oct 2017

Why don\'t you ask them where do ALL the tigers and lions go when they\'re not small, cute and cuddly anymore and they can\'t make a PROFIT off them with the pay-to-play (photo-ops)? By law, these cubs can only be handled by the public (legally) for just a couple of months. And if you TRULY think they keep and provide a home for life for all the animals they breed, think again. They couldn\'t afford to keep that many fed and property to house them would be enormous. Most are sold off and end up in CANNED HUNTING FARMS (Bred for a Bullet and A Trophy) which there are about 1000 of them in the United States. Texas has 500 of them alone. So, next time you go and pay your fee to keep these places in business, trying to think about what\'s going to happen to that cute little cub you\'re holding, while you take a picture, when he\'s too old to pet anymore - BANG! Right between the eyes (if the stupid hunter can even shoot). Be proud of yourself, barbarian.

3 Years Ago

With the history this place has I am surprised so many people with these revelations shocking.

3 Years Ago

That really hurts my soul. These tigers had to come from somewhere...Imagine that first captivated tiger being chased down by humans and exploited. Ah! And it\'s not like these animals can\'t fight back -- If we were to chase down a wild human, eventually that human would get caught too, the only difference is that the human would be able to express anguish in a language we can understand. Sometimes this makes me feel powerless because I want to help these poor creatures but it\'s hard to trust my fellow human beings to do the same. All we can do is continue spreading our light and bringing awareness into the world!

3 Years Ago

More news this about this T.I,.G.E.R.S. PLACE http://www.examiner.com/article/t-i-g-e-r-s-under-attack-by-media-company?cid=db_articles what\'s really going on?

3 Years Ago

OneGreenPlanetLies.com this has the true hard fact about what tis place T.I.G.E.R.S. REALLY DOES!

Christine Thewissen
3 Years Ago

In July of this year, I unfortunately visited a Zoo in the Philippines and was appalled by the living condition of some animals. This visit was organized by a friend who knew I loved animals. The zoo in question is called: Zoobic Safari in Subic Bay. They have numerous baby tigers and offer photo opportunities with a tiger cub as you feed it a little bit of milk in a bottle. There\'s a "Tiger Safari" where you get to pay to see the emaciated toothless tigers with missing fur jump on the jeep to get raw chicken. One is even coaxed to jump on the roof and the vehicle drives on with the tiger on top! What a horrible experience!

13 May 2015

Unfortunately places like that are way too common in the United States, too. No place that supports cub handling and encounters with exotic animals is worth supporting. Cub petting means always animal abuse, one way or another.

Aaron Price
3 Years Ago

This article does nothing to help tigers. Instead of sitting at your computer reading biased, sensationalist hype, go here and help tigers directly: https://support.worldwildlife.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=drtv_tiger_adoption2013A&s_src=AWS1302BK002

13 May 2015

This article does help tigers. Organizations reveal those places people should never support and visit. Just like this place. Cub petting is nothing but animal abuse and should be banned immediately everywhere. So, if anyone changed their opinion about T.I.G.E.R.S. after reading this article, then yes, this article has helped tigers and all the animals living in that place. Just because T.I.G.E.R.S. breed tigers ( = being a tiger mill ) does not mean they are doing anything for conservation. Inbreeding and crossbreeding only harms the gene pool and, like we all know, white tigers have no conservation value whatsoever.

28 Jul 2016

It certainly helped me decide to not visit there this summer. They won\'t get a dime of my money.

Aaron Price
3 Years Ago

If you are interested in helping the many species of endangered tiger, please donate to the World Wildlife Fund, Mampam Conservation, or go to T.I.G.E.R.S; all are doing great things for these amazing cats. This article does absolutely nothing to help them, nor does censoring and deleting the comments of those opposing the incorrect claims it contains (looking at you, 'One Green Planet' facebook admins).

04 Feb 2017

Did you just say going to TIGERS will help these amazing cats? Did you miss the whole point of the article. I agree this article of course is one-sided, but they are correct! I am a Zoologist B.S. and Wildlife Conservationist MSc and I am very aware of the same facts that they made clear here. Ligers are not animals that are in any "danger of extinction" or needing preservation because 1) they cannot have offspring of their own and 2) they are only the result of human artifical selection and breeding. Also white tigers are not a sub-species or a seperate species as they like to claim at this institute, they are the result of a mutation of the pigmentation allele and this mutation can only be sustained through inbreeding and thus other deletrious alleles also build up and cause most of these animals to have an array of health problems. On top of that this place encourages you to take pictures with baby tigers and pose with adult ones! How is that ANYHOW conservation oriented?! It isn\'t, it\'s solely based on profit. Also when I was young and in high school I wanted to work here so I mailed to ask what I had to do to apply, one of the last steps that I had to take before visiting the place was to sign a "secrecy" waiver so I couldn\'t tell anyone about the work I was doing there or what I saw. After I read that waiver I knew this place was beyond disgusting and that was before even my studies in university.

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