Thursday, May 10, 2012

Photography Workshop (Lions and Tigers) at Isle of Wight Zoo

Being the most amazing boyfriend that he is, Brian bought me a day out at the Isle of Wight Zoo for Christmas. They have many white tigers, white lions (as well as the ‘normal’ variety), lemurs and other big cats. The day was a photography workshop with the award winning wildlife photographer Karen-Jane Dudley of I was very much looking forward to it and we decided to take a few days and camp in our new van on the island.

It was probably one of the best and most memorable experiences of my life and I am eternally grateful to him for getting me to do this day out. We got up so close to the big cats- so close that you could hear them purring at you. Ok, I know tigers don’t purr- but they actually do something similar known as ‘chuffing’. It is basically the same as purring for all intents and purposes but they generate the sound in a different way to a domestic cat. There were two tigers (brother and sister, both carrying the white gene) who had been hand reared and acted so pleased to see us all- it was beautiful. They were frantically whining, chuffing and rubbing their faces up against the face in excitement. I was literally 2 inches from them as they were doing it. I put my face up to the fence and they looked right into my eyes and then started purring and rubbing the fence. I will never forget the feeling that Diamond (the male tiger) stirred inside of me when he purred (so emotional!). 

So here are just a couple of my 1500+ photos that I took that day. I have many, many that I’d love to show you but I fear most people would think they all look the same! I will add a little description to each photo with an explanation or relevant information. 

This is Diamond. He is one of the hand reared sibling tigers I mentioned. He has to be just about the cutest and cuddliest looking tiger ever. He is a very friendly cat and loves his sister 
to bits. If you’d like more information about Diamond, visit his bio on the IOW zoo website here.

Diamond 1

diamond 2

And here is Diamond having a big yawn!

  diamond yawn

This tiger is Aysha, Diamonds sister. She was a beautiful cat and seemed so relaxed and also playful. She was so affectionate to us all when we went around to the side of their enclosure to see them. If you want to know more about Aysha, visit her bio at the IOW Zoo website.

  Ayesha 1

Here is Aysha being a stunner!

  ayesha 2

And this is Diamond and Aysha having a playful tussle for the cameras! It was really fun to watch these two play fighting. Sometimes I forgot to take photographs because I was just watching them.

  diamond & ayesha

We also got to meet the most handsome lion I think I’ve ever seen, Casper. He is a big and very beautiful white lion. He posed for us for ages. He sat around and got into various poses perfect for us photographers. He was so cool and calm and did I mention handsome? If you want to know more about Casper, please visit his bio at the IOW site. Here he is doing his lion king pose…

  Casper 1

Whilst we were taking photos, I heard many people saying how he reminded them of Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia. I guess I can see that- he does look very majestic.

casper 3

casper 2

And I love this last one because he looks like he’s laughing or talking to us!

  casper 4

We also met two tiger sisters- both carrying the white gene. I feel I should explain (with my limited knowledge on the subject) about white lions and white tigers. White tigers can be traced back to just one male tiger who happened to have a genetic abnormality that made him white. I believe this was back in the 1950’s or thereabouts. Some arse decided he wanted to have more white tigers so he bred the male tiger with another orange tiger and had two cubs, one of which being a female who was white. He then bred the cub with her father and basically kept going with the inbreeding until there were quite a few white tigers. Now there are hundreds across the world and obviously the gene pool is bigger but because of this inbreeding, white tigers often have serious medical issues. The Isle of Wight Zoo does not breed their white tigers; it is more of a retirement home of sorts! 

The white lions are a type of lion that has been hunted to the point of extinction in the wild but thanks to the efforts of certain white lion programmes in South Africa, there are now a few roaming wild once more. It’s a small number but at least it’s a start. I have less information on white lions but please visit for much more information. 

So onto the photos of the white tiger sisters. This is Zia. She was beautiful and such a poser. Apparently, she is a spoiled girl and likes the finer things in life. Read more about Zia at her IOW zoo bio page.
  zia 1

Zia 2

Now this is the famous Zena- a stunning white tiger. She has such beautiful colouring and markings but unfortunately, due to the white gene she has also had to have her eye removed due to glaucoma. Her other eye was also affected by cataracts but she has recently had an operation and can see well again. She was also a bit of a poser- a proper show off! Read more about Zena here at her bio on the IOW Zoo site.

  zena 2

Zena 1

This is Chandru- he was a scary looking boy! We were told he sometimes likes to charge the fences to scare the photographers so I kept a bit back as I thought I may embarrass myself if he jumped!! He’s a big and beautiful cat. Read about Chandru here.

  tiger 5

tiger 2

I am fairly sure this next tiger is Lola. I think! She is beautiful whoever she is! Read about Lola here at the IOW Zoo page.

    Tiger 1

This last one, I’m not certain which cat it is. I feel bad. But, she is a beautiful cat. I have a feeling it may be Aysha but I’m not sure. I like this photograph- she’s just about to pounce on someone!

  tiger 4

Our host for the day, Karen-Jane Dudley was just brilliant. She is a really nice woman and had time for all 8 of us. She was more than happy to help when we had any kind of question and was also happy to look at the photos on the little LCD screens on our cameras. I would definitely recommend the day out at the Isle of Wight Zoo with Karen-Jane to anybody, especially if you love big cats like me! Please visit the IOW Zoo webpage for more information and booking and pricing details. Also, visit Karen-Jane’s website K1 Photography. She does photography tours in South Africa where you get to see the white lions out in the wild, amongst other animals. Her last tour had a kill right in front of them and the pictures are on the website if you fancy a peek! 

So these shots are just the beginning. I have a lot more photos to add but I’ll be putting them on my Flickr page rather than doing another post. I am not very good with my post editing so it may take some time! In the meantime, check out my Flickr page as I have the majority of all my photos there. See you soon!