How to Become an Apprentice @ T.I.G.E.R.S.
Do you want to be a part of a global cause that effects the lives of millions and gives a new outlook on life? Do you want to make a change in yourself? Do you want to make a change in the world? Do you want to learn how to work with some of the world's most amazing animal species? Do you want to get up-close and personal with a variety of animals on a daily basis? Do you want to know what it takes to train animals for movies, television and wildlife conservation shows? Look no further, join the T.I.G.E.R.S.' apprenticeship program.
T.I.G.E.R.S has the largest variety of big cats on earth including the rare golden tabby tiger and the world's largest big cat, the liger. The T.I.G.E.R.S' preserves are home to a diverse collection of hands on wildlife. T.I.G.E.R.S has a large hands on primate program which including apes and monkeys of all sizes. T.I.G.E.R.S is also home to Bubbles the African elephant, the only African elephant who has direct contact with the public in North America.
T.I.G.E.R.S. receives hundreds of applications for its apprenticeship program every year. Only a few of these will be chosen to be a part of the program. Before applying please make sure you meet qualifications below. We DO NOT have a specific time of year we accept applications (ALL APPLICANTS WILL BE CHOSEN DEPENDING ON WHAT WE REQUIRE AT ANY GIVEN TIME). DO NOT APPLY if you do not meet these qualifications and have not read and watched required material. Also do not apply if you not ready to accept the apprenticeship IMMEDIATLY.
To apply to the apprenticeship program you must be 18 years of age, sound of body and mind, and be able to give up 2 years of your life. This requires that you be free of attachments to persons, places and things. We do not permit personal pets of any kind. You must dedicate your life to the animals that are here. You must also be single and not caring for any children. These attachments will distract you from the focus that this lifestyle requires.
The apprenticeship program is a minimum two year program where you will be living and working at the T.I.G.E.R.S Preserve in Myrtle Beach, SC or Miami, FL. You should expect that your physical location is not permanent and can be changed at any time. You must be able to dedicate this time without expectation of days off or vacation, including family weddings, graduations and religious holidays. You may be asked to travel nationally or internationally to work on different projects the company may be involved in.
This is not a job, it is a life. You must be able to commit to working 365 days a year, sometimes for very long hours with no days off for the first couple of years. Animals require constant care, they need to be fed, cleaned and cared for at all times of the day and night. In order to establish the relationship necessary to work with these amazing wild animals, you must personally spend thousands of hours with them. You will learn more from simply spending time near the animals than you really will learn while they are out on a leash. In the first few years of training you will learn more by doing your chores and observing the animal language, watching how they interact with each other; their gaze, the fall of the their feet, the turn of their heads, the force, the sound, the smell of their breath, the curl of the lip, the swish of the tail. All of these observances are the REAL teacher. If you consume yourself with worldly activities of persons, places and things you will miss these lessons.
It takes many years of dedication to become an animal trainer. After a few years you will only begin to understand the basics of training. It will take five to ten years to become a novice trainer, this requires complete dedication. The life expectancy of a tiger in captivity is mid to late teens, it is naive to think that you will know enough about the tiger in just two years when you haven't experienced its entire lifespan. Do not expect to become fluent in Tigerese half as fast as you would Chinese.
An animal trainer is a professional athlete, you must be able to perform as one. You should have good coordination, stamina, focus and grace. You must be within 20 lbs of your perfect athletic weight or working to get there. You must be able to perform a minimum of 10 push ups, 5 pull ups, 10 tri dips and run a 12 minute mile. You should workout regularly. You will be doing a lot of physical labor; lifting, carrying, scrubbing, sweeping and shoveling. You will be working with animals who can weigh over 500lbs and who are born ultimate athletes. Your exposure to these animals is based on your time spent here and your personal abilities. Being an apprentice animal trainer is not a lifestyle without physical risk. It is up to you to be an athlete with keen focus whose active participation assists in avoiding incident.
You should truly be a lover of nature and animals. You should not be squeamish. You will be spending most of your time cleaning, including feces and raw meat. You should be able to pick up a spider or a cockroach. This is the South, insects are everywhere. We expect the level of cleanliness of our animals habitats to be at a level which you yourself would be comfortable living in and eating off of. In preparation for becoming an apprentice, BEFORE you apply, you should volunteer/work at a local: vet, zoo, wildlife rehab center, stables, or farm.
While living on the T.I.G.E.R.S preserve you will be required to be a vegetarian. Why? T.I.G.E.R.S generates all its income from their animal ambassadors, in return we do not eat animals. You must become a vegetarian prior to applying to the apprenticeship program. To make this transition easier, and to do it correctly, you need to research and study being a vegetarian. USA today reports that 2 pieces of red meet A WEEK puts you at risk for colon cancer, this risk is higher than the risk of lung cancer for smokers.
We also require that you do not consume or use any product containing palm oil. The production of palm oil is the leading cause of destruction to the environment in Asia. In addition the use of drugs or tobacco products are never permitted. Smoking is an addictive habit, when you are not able to smoke you get fidgety, nervous and uneasy. It is not only an unhealthy habit but an extreme distraction. You will be more consumed by your next nicotine break than the animals needs. No substance is allowed, i.e. alcohol, illegal drugs or medication which is known to cause impaired motor function or anything which is going to dull your wits or senses. You must be aware of the subtlest things in your surroundings to be around wild animals safely. If you have a habit of consuming anything described above you MUST cease consumption BEFORE applying. We believe in living a chemical free lifestyle, this includes the consumption of synthetic sugars and the use of chemical cleaning products and beauty supplies.
Animal trainers do not need traditional schooling. We do however require certain studies BEFORE you apply. The study of physical and philosophical yoga(join a yoga class or get DVDs and practice physical yoga) and meditation (we recommend Swami Satchidananda or Swami Rama's collected works.). Working at TIGERS will tax you both physically and mentally, one way to lessen you chances for pain is to constantly be working to make yourself stronger. Practicing yoga will do this for you both mentally and physically. The study of martial arts, karate and dance, as well as other physical and mental disciplines can help you with balance and personal power. Remember, the animals you are trying to work with have all of these attributes naturally. You must also read Ishmael, My Ishmael, and The Story of B by Daniel Quinn. Quinn's philosophy will give you a better understanding of our need for conservation and why most current forms are failing.
We will require you to watch several movies BEFORE you apply. The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly will embody our senior staff in their pursuit of perfection in the care and cleaning of the animals. This is the center of their universe and they will expect it to be yours. Kill Bill 2, the cruel tutelage of Pai Mei the Asian martial arts master is a taste of what we will put you through to train you to risk your life and others if you are ever in control of a potentially dangerous animal. Living Yoga, see why TIGERS and Dr. Antle are part of this film, http://livingyogamovie.org/. Five People You Meet in Heaven, this film will show you how a character can change the world from behind the scenes. What the Bleep Do We Know!?, to show you that there is a better way to look the universe. What a Way to Go, Life at the End of the Empire, a bleak look into what could become into our planet.
You must also read through the entirety of both our websites, both tigerfriends.com and myrtlebeachsafari.com. In addition visit our Youtube channels, ligerchannel and MyrtleBeachSafari and view our complete library. You should also try to physically visit as many of our venues as possible: Preservation Station in Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, SC, our VIP Wild Encounter Tour in Myrtle Beach, SC, Jungle Island in Miami, FL and King Richards Faire in Carver, MA. Please contact individual venues for dates and availability. These will all give you a greater understanding of what it is we do.
There will be information and ideas contained in these films, books and websites that will be discussed during the next stage of the interview process. Failure to be able to do so will negate further advancement toward becoming an apprentice
What to Expect
The apprenticeship program is a specialized school, it is not employment. You will be given housing including utilities, a place to do laundry, access to cable, WiFi and a swimming pool. You will have a community kitchen and living quarters which you are expected to keep clean. Basic food is provided and you will be given a stipend to provide for your own personal care products and food preferences.
T.I.G.E.R.S is a family. You will be living with the people you are working with. You will be seeing them from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. You have to get to know them and build trust with them in order to maintain safety in a dangerous environment.
During your apprenticeship you will be expected to deal with the public. A knowledge of public speaking is a plus. In addition to general public speaking in a retail setting, being a speaker in a scripted live educational show can also be expected of you. If you do not have these skills, you will be taught. In this current conservation environment, dealing with the public is just as necessary as caring for the animals. Being at T.I.G.E.R.S is not a way to escape dealing with humanity.
Additional skills that can be found very useful in our apprenticeship are photography and well honed computer skills.
This is a lifestyle for animal lovers whose dream it is to compassionately care for wildlife and whose wish it is to educate the public about conservation of these amazing animals and the planet we share with them. In order to do this you must be willing to make a change in yourself.
Thank you for you continued interest,
Dr. Bhagavan Antle
Director of T.I.G.E.R.S
Those who are interested in the rare opportunity of becoming an apprentice animal trainer at T.I.G.E.R.S and have met all requirements should send a written resume and a photo of themselves to the following email :
Interested applicants can also mail a resume and photo to:
Myrtle Beach, SC 29588
Email is preferred.
Once you have decided this is the right lifestyle for you, write us MONTHLY and let us know what you have accomplished, what you think about it and why you want to be a T.I.G.E.R.S. apprentice above all things. Please respond to the replied email directly so that all previous conversations and correspondence are attached to every email.
If you would like help in deciding if this is the right job for you please see;
For Frequently Asked Questions and an insider view on what being an apprentice is like, Click here for a peek into Chris' exciting life.