If you’ve ever wondered where the animals you see on TV and movies live when they're not on set, or even how they learn to “act”, look no further than Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This tourist destination, known mainly for its sunny weather and crowded beaches, is also home to Tigers Preservation Station and Safari (T.I.G.E.R.S) a safari for celebrity animals.
“Watching the film and television process happen gave me an idea that recreating that for our guests gave them the chance to see animals up close and in action doing things like their favorite television moments,” said T.I.G.E.R.S. founder and safari director Dr. Bhagavan Antle.
“Doc” created a safari for visitors from around the world to come and see these highly trained animals in their natural habitat. You may recognize these animals from films such as "Ace Ventura", "Doctor Doolittle", "Jungle Book", and "Mighty Joe Young".
“We act as agents for the animals,” said Antle. “Producers from movie and television call us up and say ‘We need a tiger who will just go up and lay down with an actress,’" said Antle.
The trainers at T.I.G.E.R.S make that request a reality. Through hundreds of hours of training a week, these animals become accustomed to working with humans.
“That gives the animals an edge in working the movie and television business because they are already so acclimated to the human lifestyle,” said Antle.
Thirty years ago, Antle created this unique safari experience where guests could come and interact (sit with them, play with them, and feed them) with these wild, endangered, and even famous animals like nowhere else in the world.
“It’s not going to the zoo, it something all together different,” said one safari guest.
Visitors pay around $250 per person to come to this three-hour walking safari over 50-acres of land in Myrtle Beach, where they may run into a few of their favorite animal celebrities.
The animals at this safari have already starred in over 500 movie and television shows over the past 30 years, and some of these animals still have a long career ahead of them-- like Bubbles the Elephant. Bubbles has starred in many movies, but is most famous for her role in Ace Ventura.
“She’s what I call the world’s biggest movie star,” said Antle. “There has been another elephant in a movie but its not as tall or heavy as Bubbles.”
By visiting Bubbles or some of your other favorite animal-stars, you are contributing to the Rare Species Fund which was established to provide funding to critical international wildlife conservation programs.
“The animal actors and the animals that are here meeting the guests will raise money for grassroots conservation programs that give people the chance to save wildlife throughout the world,” said Antle.