A powerful tiger launches itself at its keeper – before the pair make an almighty splash into a swimming pool.
Staff at the Out Of Africa wildlife park in Arizona allow themselves to be ‘hunted’ by the big cats as part of the ‘Tiger Splash’ show, which sees the animals interact with their keepers as they would with their prey.
The adult Bengal and Siberian tigers have all of their teeth and claws. But despite the danger, the bond between the humans and animals stops the brave keepers from being mauled to death.
The deadly predators grow to nearly 400kg and 11ft in length, and many of the staff are scarred from playful bites and scratches.
The famous show is purely improvised and brings out the playful side of the magnificent beasts.
Meg Ruff, one of the park coordinators, says: ‘This is a show where the cats are there to have fun and basically we use our toys and our bodies to trigger natural instincts in the tigers. We are able to do this because we have interactions with them daily.
‘When interacting with all dangerous animals we operate between the instincts of love and fear. The idea is to operate in the love portion of our instinctual programmes, so that the relationships can be formed.
‘The fear part of the journey is when the animal becomes defensive or perhaps overly offensive. That’s when they want to eat us.’