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    Posted November 24, 2008 by
    Tampa, Florida

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    An Opportunity Of A Lifetime


    A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to do a once in a lifetime photo opportunity. Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is the proud parents of two cute and adorable White Tiger cubs, and they are not only thrilled beyond belief, but they were in need of some good photos of them. Now, I don't have to tell you what my response was when they asked me to photograph them, for there was no way I was going to miss this.


    I met the zoo's marketing director outside the gate before the zoo opened, and we discussed what I was to expect, since I was not only going to get to photograph them, but I was also going to be in their habitat, only inches away from one of the most beautiful big cats in the world. Since the morning was a bit cool, the caretakers decided to wait until a little later in the morning to bring them out.


    Around 10am, we met up at the White Tiger exhibit, and then was given a brief rundown on being with wild tiger cubs. My heart was racing, and it was the most exciting moment I have had in a long time, and couldn't wait to see them. We only had 15 minutes to be in with them, for they are only a few weeks old, and need to be with their mother as much as possible.


    Since this was most likely the last day that any human will have contact with these cute and adorable cubs, it really put the pressure on me to get the shots, since I most likely won't have an opportunity to do it over. The cubs were put out in the habitat first, and when the caretakers gave us the signal, we went in with them.


    As I walked in, I glanced down, and there they were. Two, tiny white cubs just sitting there. I stopped dead in my tracks, almost as if I had to catch my breath. I was expecting the worst, as my thoughts that they might reject us being in there with all this camera equipment. We were foreigners in their world, and the comfort of their mommy was nowhere in sight. After all, we weren't outside their domain, we were in it.


    The cubs, one male and one female, was frozen at first as they watched us. I immediately got down to their level, which meant I had to lay on the ground. After a minute or two, they got real curious, especially the female. She was a cutie, and really wanted to see what I was all about, and at one point came over to me and licked my camera, and then later wanted to wrestle with me.


    Even though these little ones are very young, I was a little nervous when they wanted to play with me, for they have very sharp claws, and their teeth are also razor sharp. However, I didn't panic, and actually thought it was cool that they were so comfortable with me that they wanted to play. What an experience to say the least.


    It really felt longer then 15 minutes of our time together, but I got several nice photos of them even though it was hard to get them to pose together. Words are really hard to describe the feeling of being so close to these rare and endangered beautiful animals. This was an experience that was hard to say goodbye when our time was up, but it was an opportunity of a lifetime that I will never forget.


    To see more photos as well as the video of the photo shoot, visit http://blog.robertlafollette.com/2008_11_01_archives.html#5045486771512585796

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