News of the deadly tiger attack in San Francisco hit home in the Central Panhandle.
One of the world's foremost tiger experts operates a preserve outside Ponce de Leon.
Dr. Josip Marcan says most zoos have “big cat exhibits", but the average zoo operator doesn't have the background and experience to safely display these beautiful animals
Nina, a Siberian tiger is similar to the one that killed a 17-year-old teenager, and seriously injured two others outside the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day.
Dr. Marcan runs the 80-acre Tiger Preserve outside of Ponce de Leon.
At 90-years-young, the Croatian native has been a tiger trainer at some of the biggest circus acts throughout the world from the 1930's-through-80's.
"Tigers are like people, some tigers kill, some don't. It depends on how they are raised. And, who is training them; do they have experience and background in tigers," explains Dr. Marcan.
Those who work with tigers on a daily basis say it's a matter of trust; a relationship must be developed between the animal and handler.
"We learn the traits of the animals. We get to know the animals, they get to know us. I won't just walk into a cage with a tiger. We must know each other for that," adds Dr. Marcan.
Dr. Marcan says he's been contacted by California investigators, looking into the traits and personality of tigers.
Dr. Marcan believes within 10-years, all the tigers in the wild will have been killed by poachers, which is why it's very important to maintain animal preserves.
The Marcan Tiger Preserve is not open to the public. It’s mainly being used for scientific research.
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