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Hearing them roar: The tiger handler


By Jonas Reyes

Subic Bay Freeport – Jonathan San Juan gets up in the morning and prepares for work like  millions of other workers.

But unlike most workers, he deals with fangs and claws and predators on a daily basis.

You see, the 32-year-old San Juan is a tiger handler at the Zoobic Safari.

While others may see his occupation as a close encounter with danger — or even death,  to Jonathan, it’s just another day in the park.

Lions and tigers2

“I used to work at the lion close encounter, which is taking tourists to the cages of the lions here. Part of my work was to clean the cages, feed the animals and ensure the safety of the tourists who go to the area,” he said.

But management spotted his potential and passion and eventually assigned him to the tiger pavilion where he worked as a photographer and tiger handler.

“At first, I was told to just observe, it lasted for one month. But I got used to it so it became a daily routine for me,” he added.

With a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Technology, Animal Husbandry degree from the Bataan Peninsula State University (BPSU), Jonathan has so far taken care of 10 tiger and lion cubs.

‘For the ecosystem’

“On my days off, I usually spend it playing basketball and going fishing with friends. I am still single so I take my nephews and niece here to see the animals and how important my work is,” he stressed, stating that he works six days a week with one day off.

“My job is important, it is mostly the breeding of animals, especially some of the endangered species. With the population of tigers increasing here, we believe that what we do is important for the ecosystem,” he said.

He advised others keen on following his footsteps to focus on the job at hand, observe safety measures, undergo proper training, and treat lions and tigers accordingly.

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