What once was a hobby has now become the active protection of endangered species!
As a butcher shop owner in Heidesheim in 1977/78, Peter Schweikhard had business relations with the Safari Park in Groß-Gerau. The big cats fascinated him and so it happened that he bottle-raised several baby lions and tigers, 5 in all. When the park went bankrupt in 1984 he had a female lion named Cherry and a tiger named Bengal in his care. He simply kept the young animals and thereby saved them from animal traders.
Bengal and Cherry grew up as "siblings" and thrived.
In 1989, when they were 5 years old, they were relocated to the Waldeck Restaurant above Ingelheim. Here, 220 m2 of appropriate enclosures and stalls had been built for them under the supervision of specialised committees of the Frankfurt Zoo and authorized by the district administration of Mainz-Bingen. These included heated stalls, an outdoor area with a sand basin, a wooden lying area, scratching posts and even a small swimming pool.
But as fate would have it, just at that time Cherry fell ill with a dangerous meningitis, which she did not survive. Bengal appeared heartbroken and needed a new companion. Since he was a Bengal tiger, we looked for a Bengal female and found Fluffi in the Safari Park Stukenbruck. Al though it took almost another year for them to get used to each other, they eventually felt so comfortable together that they had their first offspring in 1997.
That’s how it all began and at the beginning of 2007 – Bengal and Fluffy having died in the meantime – 5 splendid adult Bengal tigers lived at Waldeck: Kashmir, Shirkhan, Pascha, Sultan and our only female tiger, Mara. Until, after a gestation of 112 days, 2 healthy male tigers were born on the 20th of May 2007–offspring that were not actually planned. The cute babies, with a birth weight of about 1500 g, developed into strong ruffians, so that now there are 7 tigers in all. There is plenty of room for them, since we had already begun to enlarge the stalls and double the outdoor enclosure area at end of 2006. At the same time the non-profit association "Waldeck Tiger Garden" was founded, which is now responsible for the Tiger Garden.
Today, there are fewer than 2000 Bengal tigers (also called Royal tigers) worldwide. The habitat of these majestic animals is becoming smaller and smaller, and it becomes increasingly difficult for them to find food. Also, unscrupulous animal traders still succeed in exporting European-born tigers to Asia, where the sorry fate awaits them of being shot by trophy hunters. Despite strict prohibitions there is still a lively trade in tiger skins and, finally most of the body parts of the killed animals are made into potency remedies and sold at extremely high profits.
We are pleased to be able to contribute to the preservation of this endangered species with our 7 Bengalese beauties. We support the global efforts of the WWF - Worldwide Fund for Nature - and other organisations working for the establishment and maintenance of reserves and strict regulations on species like the tiger, which are protected by the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species I.
Organisations such as the BNA - Bundesverband für fachgerechten Natur- und Artenschutz e.V. (German Federal Association for the Expert Protection of Nature and Animal Species) and "Hilfe für exotische Tiere in Not e.V." (Help for exotic animals in distress), of which we are members either as private persons or as an association, help with the implementation of and the compliance to animal welfare provisions and the appropriate accommodation of endangered species here in Germany. It is our goal to arouse interest in these beautiful animals and their problems and we are pleased to demonstrate active species preservation using our live animals to interested younger and older animal lovers, or to school classes, for example.
The non-profit organisation "Waldeck Tiger Garden", with Peter Schweikhard as president and actively supported by his partner Monika Habel and his brother Albert Schweikhard, ensures that our tigers enjoy the best possible living conditions through corresponding expertise, appropriate care and feeding, and regular veterinary care.
This is not only fun but also costs a lot of time and money, since a full-grown animal of about 250 kg eats approximately 4 – 6 kg of beef, horsemeat or lamb per day. In addition, there are the costs for the veterinarian, energy, etc. It is good to know that there are more and more animal lovers who support our association financially by donations or membership!
Kashmir, Mara, Shirkhan, Pascha, Sultan, Keno und Bombay
want to take this opportunity to express their sincere thanks...
... as do we, of course!
The Waldeck Tiger Garden
Peter Schweikhard, President