Seaview Predator Park

30 Dec

Seaview Park Tiger 4There’s cliché about Americans that they think they can come to Africa to see lions and tigers. Tigers – ha! Silly tourists – this isn’t the jungle, this is the savannah.  Except that seeing (and touching!) tigers is exactly what I did last Tuesday, at the Seaview Predator Park just 25km on the Jeffery’s Bay side of Port Elizabeth.  After ooohing over some adorable lion and tiger cub photos that a friend posted on Instagram a few months ago, H and I found the opportunity to see them for ourselves on our way from Cape Town (via a surfing stopover in J-Bay) to Grahamstown for Christmas.

This park is small (“It’s no Addo”, I was warned) so on your short drive from the gate to the main predator enclosures you’re probably guaranteed to see a good bunch of the other 40 species the park boasts. In just one spot we saw blesbok, wildebeest,  giraffes and nyala, all looking super chilled – probably because the lions are behind the fences!Seaview Park Lion1

The main predator enclosure is like a great big picnic area, but on the other side of the remarkably small fences are some of the most impressive creatures on the planet.   I’ve seen wild lions close up from the safety of a car in Kruger and the Kalahari and I know that you don’t mess with these kings of beasts – they could close the gap and munch you in a heartbeat… if they felt like it.  So it was with some trepidation that I followed the other completely nonchalant tourists right up to the fence to have a good look at Thor sunning himself on his platform.  Perhaps it’s a result of being raised by humans since they were cubs (and being well fed I presume) that these great male lions were completely uninterested in us.  The females in the long grass were more on the alert and made a duck when the busload of screaming children appeared.  It was a hot day and the fully grown tigers had retreated into their shady huts so we didn’t get a good view of them.  I was still excited to see them from afar though.

Seaview Park Tiger cub 2Back past the bored volunteers playing with their phones under a tree and some workers incongruously mowing the lawn next to the enclosures, it was a short drive to the top of the hill to the restaurant where all the baby predators are.  This was fun bit.  You pay extra to interact with the cubs (from about R150 to R350 depending on the cub) but I reckoned it was worth the experience of scratching 2 month old Ziggy the Bengal tiger just like my kitty at home.   H forked out for privilege of interacting with Jasper and James, two beautiful 6 month old Siberian tigers who happened to be hanging out with a sleepy white lion cub called Coco that day.  I also loved seeing the lynx (caracal). The young ones were up and pacing around with an air of menace while mom dozed in the shade. There were also some happy meerkats, a snoring bushpig and some impressive snakes (unfortunately with no labels to identify them).

However heart breaking you might find it to see these kings and queens of the jungle and savannah enclosed in fences, it would be all the more heart breaking for them to disappear from the wild altogether, so I for one am glad that breeding programmes exist to look out for the bloodlines of these beasts.

The entrance fee was R60 for adults, R25 for children.

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