(DADE CITY, Fla.) — If swimming with dolphins is not exciting enough for you, how about a tiger cub? A private zoo in Dade City, Fla., is now giving patrons the chance to swim with a Siberian tiger cub.
While it might sound dangerous, it’s a roaring success, with customers from as far away as Iceland lining up and paying $200 for just 30 minutes to cuddle, bottle feed and swim with Tony the tiger — a 6-week-old cub.
“It’s kind of a limited time that we can do it in Florida. You can only interact with the tiger until they’re 40 pounds,” said Randy Stearns, head animal trainer and president of Wild Things.
When full grown, Tony could tip the scales at more than 1,000 pounds. But for now, Tony can be yours to play with at Wild Things.
Swimming with potentially wild and dangerous animals seems to be trendy at the moment. At Arizona’s Out of Africa Park, fully grown tigers play in the water alongside their trainers much to the delight of fans looking on behind gated fences.
In Tampa Bay, Fla., Bob Barrett began a business that had him bring alligators to children’s birthday parties.
Barrett runs The Alligator Attraction of Madeira Beach, Fla., where visitors can pay to hold and feed rescued baby gators. He says the inspiration for his party idea came when business was sluggish.
“It just took off like wildfire,” Barrett told ABC News in September. “Everybody loves having the gator pool parties.”
The state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission deemed it illegal and shut down the operation last week. Many animal rights activists say it was the right thing to do.
“You should never have close human contact with animals, especially actual petting of wild animals. They belong in the wild and people should not get in the habit of being in close contact with them,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire