I am standing 20 feet away from a magnificent tiger named Meow. Meow is breathtakingly beautiful, like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
Meow is calm, he seems to know that these people are here to help him. I look Meow straight in the eye, and Meow blinks his yellow eyes and looks at me.
Then I ask: “Is the tiger sedated?”
“No,” say Edwin Weik, the director of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT). Edwin devotes his life to Thailand’s damaged wildlife, doing what he can to give them a chance at a better life.
We are here at the WFFT with Edwin to learn about two rescued fishing cats, but at the moment we are standing in front of a magnificent tiger.
I gulp as Meow, a 12-year-old Bengal tiger that was rescued by WFFT 11 years ago, is carefully carried over to his personal bath tub. That is no small feat when you consider that this tiger weights between 240 -500 lbs! Tigers, I learn, are very clean animals and often take baths multiple times a day. But bath time is important for Meow for more than just cleanliness reasons, it is a chance to rehabilitate and strengthen his leg muscles, so that some day very soon he will be able to walk all on his own again (Read Edwin’s personal account of Meow’s struggle here)
“Meow the tiger at WFFT that has lived at the wildlife rescue center since 2001 came in June 2001 in a very bad physical state. Meow was not able to sit up or even walk when he came in due to several infections, including one to the central nervous system. The only way to make him walk again was by taking him down the lake on a daily basis to exercise his muscles and strengthen his body,” according to the WFFT’s Facebook post on Meow.
Edwin was told multiple times by various veterinarians to give up and put Meow down, but Edwin is a champion of lost causes and a savior of down-on-there-luck animals. And now there is hope for this wild tiger.
Edwin explains that for the first time in awhile Meow walked from where he is currently lying right over to where I am standing. This is great news for Meow, but not the most comforting piece of information for me, still I am gratefully to be standing here.
Edwin hopes that in the New Year Meow will be back on his feet. And after standing in front of such a clearly wild creature, that is my wish for the New Year too.
Join us in wishing Meow a happy and healthy 2012 by watching this short clip.