FLYING TIGERS ROARING FOR INTERNATIONAL TIGER DAY
Aircrew from ‘The Flying Tigers’ of 814 Naval Air Squadron met with keepers, vets and real tigers at Paignton Zoo to help raise awareness of tiger conservation.
“29 July is International Tiger Day and as a NATO Tiger Squadron we felt it only fitting to celebrate our links to such an amazing creature and hopefully raise awareness of tiger conservation projects,” said Lieutenant Max White.
The Flying Tigers arrived before the zoo opened and were thrilled to meet Fabi, a male Sumatran tiger and father of a new-born cub, who the team had hoped to meet. But unfortunately the young cub wasn't ready to take his first steps outside.
"We were a little disappointed not to see the tiger cub but that disappointment lasted about 5 minutes until we saw Fabi leap up a 12ft pole in order to get his breakfast," said Lt Chris Ford. “It was a real pleasure to see an endangered species so close up. We are proud to be known as ‘The Flying Tigers’ and equally proud to get up close such an amazing animal."
‘The Flying Tigers’ have just returned a deployment onboard HMS Ocean in the Mediterranean, where they were the lead squadron on Exercise Deep Blue 2. Working up ready to protecting a task group from submarine attack and in preparation for when the Royal Navy goes to sea on the new Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carriers, the largest ships the Navy will have ever operated.
The Squadron are in the process of partnering with a Wild Tiger Foundation in India as well as a number of Zoos in the UK.
"It’s estimated that there were over 100,000 wild tigers in India in the 19th Century. 60 years ago their numbers had dropped down to 40,000, and today it’s estimated there are only 2,200 roaming free. We all have a responsibility to reverse that trend. Working directly with charities in India as well as zoos in the UK,” added Lt Max White.