Before watching the Tigers play the first home game of the season, Auburn fans have a chance to play with tigers themselves. The Hotel at Auburn University is presenting the Tiger Cub Kick Off event on Friday, Sep. 14, during which attendees can play with two real Bengal tiger cubs.
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is bringing two of its tiger cubs, Fatima and Ceylon, to the hotel for the event. The animals will be in the lobby from 3-6 p.m. Hotel guests and Auburn fans are welcome to pet, play and take pictures with the cubs.
Andreas Anagnostopoulos, manager of Piccolo Bar and Lounge at the hotel, has worked with the zoo to arrange the visit. Though the animals don’t generally travel far from home, the zoo has made an exception.
“This is the farthest the tigers have ever traveled,” Anagnostopoulos said. “We are excited to have them come.”
The tiger cubs are a sibling pair and are both between 11 and 12 weeks old.
“That is something I’m really excited about for our guests,” Anagnostopoulos said. “Once you get them in that in-between period, they are really playful. They like to be pet and hugged.”
Though the event is free, those wanting to take a picture with Ceylon and Fatima are being asked to make a donation. All profits from the event are benefiting the zoo. The zoo is raising money to build new, green facilities. The new location will include solar panels, a personal water source and the ability to produce its own electricity, in case of storms.
“They are actually relocating a couple of miles up the road so they don’t actually have to evacuate all their animals the next time there is a hurricane or a tropical storm or depression in the Gulf,” Anagnostopoulos said.
In the past, the zoo has had to evacuate all animals from the premises because water from such storms reached the zoo at its current location. It has been dubbed “The Little Zoo that Could” by the Animal Planet and was the subject of a show aired on the channel.
“We want to be able to support a worthy cause, and then at the same time it’s something for our package holders who are coming in for the first home game,” Tim Aylsworth, director of sales and marketing, said. “It gives them a new experience, something that they haven’t seen before.”
Those wanting to play with the tigers are encouraged to arrive at the event early. Meeting the tigers will be on a first come, first serve basis. For additional information on the event, visit the hotel’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/auhcc.