Meet the family living with 150 animals – including a 44-stone hand-fed tiger – News Live
20
February

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , /


 A family has spent the last ten years living with 150 animals including a 44-stone tiger, which is hand-fed and cuddled every day  Petr Augustÿn manages Fauna Park, a sanctuary that houses more 40 different species, from monkeys and meerkats to cougars  With the help of his family in Lipová, Czech Republic, the 53-year-old has been working with dangerous animals for the last 10 years  Describing the animals as the ‘centre of his life’, Petr interacts closely with tiger Diego  Petr said: “My favourite moment is when I go in with the animals. It’s an incredible feeling, that the animal perceives you as an equal    “They want to cuddle you and show their love to you. It’s indescribable.  “It’s a kind of adrenalin rush, the respect, but mainly there’s love ”  Petr’s first animal encounter was with two parrots more than 30 years ago and his love grew from there  “First I had parrots, then I added monkeys and enlarged my variety to tigers and big cats,” Petr said  “Eight years ago, I bought my first puma called Babu. She is a female.  “And then, three and a half years ago, I bought Diego when he was just eight weeks old He is my tiger.  “Diego was with me a lot until he was nine months old. He even shared my bed He spent a lot of time with me and animals are grateful for this kind of interaction ”    Petr allows the tiger cubs to interact with his family and live inside their home until they reach a certain age and size  Tomas Augustÿn, Petr’s son, helps to take care of the ground maintenance at the park and to feed the animals – the big cats eat around 22kg of meat per day  But Petr is quick to admit the potential dangers that strangers would face if they were to ever enter the animal enclosures  He said: “My family works with me in the Fauna Park. It’s me, my wife, my son and daughter  “And we have three other employees that the animals are used to.  “Now, I can recognise what mood they’re in, when I go into the cage and look into their eyes  “The animal tells you with its behaviour and its gestures, if it’s in the mood to play with you or not   “If it’s a snoring sound for instance, it’s good, you can enter. The worst case is when the tiger is lying down, with his ears backwards    “They’ve never attacked me. If a stranger entered however, it wouldn’t end the same way If it’s someone they don’t know, I don’t think it would end well.  “These animals were born in captivity – and this environment is their safety  “I think in the wild, that hunger would force them to find some food, but it would be very dangerous These animals are used to humans. Any contact could be fatal.”  Petr dedicates his life to his animals and is now looking forward to adding more species to his ever-growing collection  Petr said: “I don’t have a favourite animal, I love them all equally. It’s not about one being better than the other  “I love them all the same, simple as that.  “These animals are my life. I’d even say my whole family’s life  “I think that the care and love that they get here, they could never get anywhere else ”


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