Meet the big cat enthusiast who shares backyard with tigers and lions – and WRESTLES with them
Carl Bovard knows he is dicing with death each time he grapples with the beasts, but considers it a risk worth taking to raise awareness about endangered species
It isn’t unusual for loving pet-owners to wrestle with their animal pals – unless of course the beasts in question are terrifying lions and tigers.
But Carl Bovard, who shares his backyard with six tigers and two lions, says he regularly grapples with the ferocious predators to raise awareness about endangered species.
Carl knows he is dicing with death each time he grapples with the huge beasts, but considers it a risk worth taking.
After an accident left him blind around 13 years ago, he decided the main thing he would miss seeing was animals – so when he regained sight he adopted his first two tiger cubs.
He set up Single Vision – his educational, non-profit company – nine years ago and welcomes tours to his house and garden where his wild animals live with him.
Along with the big cats he also keeps two bear cubs – Bruiser and Honey – plus a leopard and two alligators.
Carl said: “There are many dangers that come with keeping these animals and you’ve just got to take all the precautions you can to stay safe.
“There’s no doubt about the fact that death would be the worst outcome from this.
“Instinctively they just know to go straight for the vitals – when I’m with them I never give them a free shot at my neck.”
Carl plays rough with the tigers – one of which weighs 700lbs – allowing them to recreate the honing of the natural hunting talents they would develop in the wild.
But that does not come without its drawbacks.
“I’ve had a leopard bite me on the nose and I had to get that sewed back together. I’ve also had my shoulder separated,” he said.
“I was playing with a few of the cats and another decided to join the fun.
“He ran at me and they can get up to around 50 miles per hour in a couple of strides – that hurt.”
Despite the controversy that comes with keeping and breeding big cats in captivity, Carl believes that his organisation is helping tigers and lions.
He added: “Having these cats in captivity and being able to show them off gives people a chance to get a passion for them.
“It is essential that we keep them in captivity to create that passion in people and make them want to help these beautiful animals.
“People say to me ‘They belong in the wild’, but my question to them is ‘What wild?’
“There are seven billion people on this planet and we are destroying the habitat of these animals.
“Pretty soon the only tigers left are going to be those in captivity and they may need to be used to repopulate the wild.”
His biggest tiger is a Siberian named Samson – he weighs more than 700lbs and is over nine and a half feet tall when he stands on his back legs.
He buys a massive 1,500lbs of meat each week and his big cats can get through 200lbs in a single sitting.
Despite the obvious problems that come with sharing your life with such big cats Carl loves every minute of his job and is looking forward to expanding his Single Vision dream.