Wrestling, feeding and playing with the world’s largest cats is all in a day’s work for Patrick Martin-Vegue, Dreamworld’s Tiger Island Manager. Working with tigers certainly has its benefits, but scratches, bruises and sore muscles are all part and parcel of this gig.
What’s a typical day in ‘the office’ for you?
My day starts off with a morning stroll with one or two of our tigers and a couple of presentations with the tigers for our Dreamworld guests. In the afternoon we like to hang around with the cats, organise training sessions with our newest cubs and fit in office work somewhere in between. Every day we have to clean and feed the cats and talk to the guests about the tigers. With 11 tigers and two cougars, it’s always busy in our office.
Tigers are also incredibly endangered so I spend a lot of my day trying to educate guests on our tiger conservation projects that exist in the wild.
What do you love most about your job?
I love playing with the cats and have been lucky enough to work with big cats for over 30 years. I appreciate and cherish my time with the tigers – they’re like family.
What’s been the most memorable moment since you’ve been there?
It’s always special watching a new cub come into the world. I’ve been with lots of tigers as they were giving birth. During my time at Dreamworld I was lucky enough to be with Samara when she had her cubs.
Why do you think you have the Best Job in the World?
I get to spend the entire day working with tigers and there’s never a dull moment when you work with animals.
Dreamworld tiger buddies Baru and Ravi
How did you become a tiger trainer?
I started working in the zoo business while I was at university, working summers at a park in California, USA. My first animal jobs were with elephants and camels, and I was lucky enough to be promoted to work with other large animals until I built up to cougars, lions, and tigers.
What traits do you need to do this job well?
An education in a science related field is particularly helpful along with a good work ethic. You do spend lots of time talking about tigers and conservation, so for my job, you need to enjoy the interactions with park guests and media.
Now we have to ask… any injuries?
I have been bitten a few times over the years while playing with the cats – nothing serious, considering I work with such powerful animals. It’s always good to remember accidents can happen… like when I injured my feet falling while wrestling a tiger.