Good morning from T.I.G.E.R.S in Myrtle Beach! Even though T.I.G.E.R.S. is closed for the season, we still like to keep you informed about issues and topics about the animal world. Have you read the interview featured in Rolling Stone just a few weeks ago? Enjoy this sample!
The Man Who Made Animal Friends
By Ian S. Port
On a scorching afternoon in July, just inland from the discount swimsuit shops and high-rise hotels of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, an elephant named Bubbles tromps past groomed lawns and gleaming pickup trucks on a quiet residential street. On her back, nine feet off the pavement, clad head-to-thigh in khaki, a blond ponytail swinging against his back, sits Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, the founder and director of The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, or T.I.G.E.R.S. They lumber into the yard of Antle’s two-story colonial, set on a narrow stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway. “Let me off, you big cow!” Antle hollers, as he climbs onto a high wooden platform. He plans to lead Bubbles to the waterfront for a swim, but the 9,000-pound loxodonta shuffles toward a nearby sapling instead, and starts tearing off branches. “Come here, Bub Bub,” Antle bellows. “I don’t want to chase you!” ………
Antle told me that about 10 percent of T.I.G.E.R.S.’ annual revenue goes to a nonprofit called the Rare Species Fund, which supports conservation projects around the world. In 2013, the most recent year that financial reports are available, the Fund reportedly spent $78,370 on “wildlife conservation.” ……..
After watching Bubbles stroll down Antle’s street toward her usual Wednesday bath, I accept an invitation to swim with the elephant. As soon as I hit the water, Bubbles runs her trunk between my legs and hoists me into the air. In a second, I’m on her head. Then I’m on her back, feet in the water, astounded. Her hide feels like living asphalt; her ears – satiny on the insides – slap against my skin. Maybe this is a trained behavior. But I think I can feel Bubbles’ curiosity, her intelligence, her irreverence; I start to understand her playfulness.
Bubbles and Doc Antle playing with Bella the black lab in the Intracoastal Waterway. Joshua Drake
To learn more about animal and human interaction, visit our website. Better yet, make plans to come and visit us at T.I.G.E.R.S. next spring in Myrtle Beach.