A 96 year-old Kirton man who was born in India got to tick one off the bucket list when he met tigers up close at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park.
Maurice Davis was born in Calcutta in 1921 during a time when the hunting of wild animals like the tiger was more prevalent and accepted.
He worked as a hunter in his late teens, hunting mainly wild boar and deer. However, on one occasion he was called upon to kill a tiger which had been attacking cattle.
Thankfully he was unsuccessful in locating the beast at the time, which Maurice now tells the Standard he is ‘very pleased about’.
“I was sitting on the upturned roots of a massive tree waiting for him to come,” he explained. “There was thick undergrowth all around and after some time I heard a big twig snap just below me. I was sure it was the tiger, but never saw it. But after meeting these beautiful animals at the wildlife park here, I was so glad I never took a shot at a tiger in India all those years ago.”
It was on Wednesday that Maurice had a ‘tiger experience’ at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park - getting up close and personal with the animals while as his family watched the delight on his face.
Maurice said: “The tigers just looked at me in this amazing way. The owner was feeding them meat through the netting - it was very exciting.
“I was used to jungle life in India but never saw a tiger, so it was really delightful to see these up so close.”
Daughter Hils Davis added: “It was so wonderful, I could see it meant a lot to him.
“The security measures in place at the park were very impressive, so were weren’t afraid.”
Park founder Steve Nicholls said: “It was very emotional for him - you could see tears in his eyes.”
After meeting the live tigers, Mr Nicholls took Maurice back to his lounge where he has a stuffed tiger set to go on display at the park as part of their new education centre.
Mr Nicholls explained: “This was the tiger cubs’ father who was due to come here with the mother, but sadly died before he got here.
“We had him stuffed by a professional taxidermist so he could become the ambassador for what we’re doing here.”
Maurice added: “It may not have been alive, but I got to stroke this one’s fur and tickle its ears.”
He added: “They were very good to me at the wildlife park, and it was a delightful experience.”