Summer, a 4-month-old Siberian tiger cub greets Browning-Pearce Elementary School students Thursday morning. Summer and a baby alligator visited the school from Single Vision Inc., the endangered animal educational facility in Melrose housing six tigers, alligators and other animals. The visit was facilitated by local animal rights activist and Putnam County School Board Member Nikki Cummings.
Did you know a tiger can go from zero to 50 MPH in three strides? Feeding wild alligators makes them a greater risk to people, and that only two cat types love the water -- tigers and jaguars?
It was Summer the Siberian tiger thrilling Browning-Pearce Elementary School kids Thursday as Carl Bovard, the cub's owner and founder of Single Vision Inc. -- an endangered species educational facility in Melrose -- educated the students.
He told students he feeds the six tigers at Single Vision about 200 pounds of raw meat a night, tigers are expert dawn and dusk hunters and their existence is in peril.
"They've lost 98 percent of their habitat," Bovard told the kids about the Siberian tiger in the school amphitheater.
The main threats to the tiger are man, who levels its habitat to mine resources and kills the big cats for parts mostly sold to China for its medical industry, as tiger parts are thought to be anodynes in much of Chinese culture.
"We really need to stop the poaching of this animal," he said next to the 40-pound cub who will weigh about 600 pounds as an adult. "We have to educate people that there is no research to back up the idea their parts are in any way effective medicinally. This is a species we can not afford to lose."
Putnam County School Board Vice Chair Nikki Cummings set up the school visit and relayed student questions about Summer and the gator to their owner.
Cumming's niece, Reagan Gardner, a fourth grader at Browning-Pearce, met Summer, then the baby alligator with the band around its mouth as her aunt held it for schoolmates to pet.
"She loves animals," Reagan said of Cummings. "She's got two dogs, two ducks and a lot of cats."
First-grader Nina Rojas said she loved the visit Thursday, as she stood in a winding line waiting to pet the alligator's tail.
"It was cool," she said. "We learned a lot, too."
To learn more about services by Single Vision Inc., including interactive tours with tiger cubs and educational information, visit singlevisioninc.org -- the entity's website.
PCSD School Board Vice Chair Nikki Cummings holds a baby alligator students pet the tail of at Browning-Pearce Elementary School Thursday. The alligator and its owner visited with Siberian tiger cub, Summer from the Single Vision endangered animal facility in Melrose.
Summer the Siberian tiger and owner Carl Bovard of Single Vision Inc. share a moment at Browning-Pearce Thursday. Below, students learn about tigers from Bovard.