roughhousing with two of his Siberian tiger cubs, Craig Wagner loses
track of their brother, Deisel. Until that is, the half-grown tiger
rises on its hind legs behind Craig's back an wraps its paws the size
of boxing gloves around his chest. Now Craig knows exactly where Deisel
is. Deisel's claws, which can puncture a lung, are currently retracted.
We'll get back to Craig in a minute.
spring, Cindy Blakenship wrote an article for Southern Exposure
Magazine on activities for kids in our area. It gradually dawned on us
that kids are pretty much constantly looking for things to do, so we
decided to create a regular feature on things for kids to do in
Southern Oregon. Like wrestling with Siberian tigers or at least
watching an expert do it.
Craig Wagner is that expert.
Federally licensed to own and show big cats, Craig owns and manages
Great Cats World Park, which opened this summer just outside Cave
Junction. Although Craig has had a few hospital visits and thousands of
stitches in decades of working with big cats, no skin or bones were
broken that Sunday afternoon in the tiger pen.
interested in just showing off his cats, and Great Cats is not a zoo.
He has several different species of wild cats in the 10-acre site along
Highway 199, including Bengal and Siberian tigers, several kinds of
leopards, and African lions. Every day he works with the cats, training
them to snarl, leap, jump, run, climb or simulate an attack, all on cue.
cats are performers. They get regular work as magazine and calendar
models and TV and movie stars. They have performed with Siegfried and
Roy and performed for famous photographers. They'll perform for you
too. Craig puts the cats through their paces daily at Great Cats and
you can watch for $10; $7 if you're under 13. (541) 592-2957 or Great Cats World Park