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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 are not ready to accept the apprenticeship IMMEDIATELY.

To apply to the apprenticeship program you must be 18 years of age, of sound 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 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 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.

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