No live tigers but plenty to see, hear and feel


BY Michael Mandelkern

There may not be any live animals at “TIGERS The Exhibition: Tracking A Legend,” but visitors might learn more about the near-extinct species there than they would in a zoo.

Carol Amore, an award-winning filmmaker and author who has visited Indian wildlife and helps to preserve tigers, created the exhibit. She debuted the exhibition on April 24 in the South Street Seaport, on the third floor of the Pier 17 mall. The showcase is primarily geared towards children and teenagers ages 6 to 15.

The exhibit familiarizes visitors with tigers in their natural habitat through project spaces like Carnivore Capture- Jaws and Claws & Canine Bite Force, which allows attendees to feel the strength of several types of bites. Then there’s Talk like a Tiger Interactive where visitors hear the calls of tigers and tigresses.

There are photographs of tigers in their natural habitat all over the space and a structure of a recreated tiger covered by leaves stands in the center.

The theater room presents Amore’s award-winning “TIGERS – Tracking a Legend” documentary (2002), which shows her in India with tigers and other animals, including bears and cobras, interacting with and protecting themselves in the wild. Poachers who hunt tigers for their lucrative bones sold on the black-market are filmed as well. There are less than 3,000 tigers in the wild today, according to the exhibit.

Children are further educated on the physiology of a tiger at the Inside the Tiger exhibit. A graphic of the animal is shown on a small television screen to display how they move, emphasizing the animal’s spinal flexibility and powerful muscles.

The youth who visited on national Endangered Species Day (May 21), however, were most interested by the Electronic Digi-Track Climbing Wall. At approximately ten feet tall, players eagerly lined up to achieve several objectives, including pushing lit-up “raindrops” before they fall and acting as a tigress saving her cubs in the same fashion.

The video game-like technology, with jungle noises in the background, “helps people remember their experience,” said Amore. “The exhibition builds layers of learning.”

Visitors were also drawn to other features, particularly the “slide n’ sniff” stations that reeked of simulated tiger dirt tracks and other odors, prompting expressions such as, “that smells awful” and “eww.”

Girl scouts, teachers and students from several different schools came to the Endangered Species Day exhibit. Amore hosted group tours and answered the questions of curious patrons.

“It was very cool to see how the tigers live and meet the woman who is responsible for the exhibit,” said Amanda Adinolfi, a member of a Staten Island troop of the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York. She and four others, ages 12 to 13, were chaperoned by their troop leader. All five scouts received a merit badge.

Joanna Leis, a public relations representative of the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York, said learning how nature conditions and outsiders endanger the tiger and other species is “something they [the girl scouts] were able to relate to” in an environmental context. She called the exhibit “very interactive and educational.”

Nadine Hibbert, a fifth grade teacher at the George Jackson Academy in the East Village, brought 30 of her students, educating them on the ecosystem and why the United States established Endangered Species Day.

She described the exhibit as a hands-on experience that allowed children to roam freely. “It wasn’t just someone talking to them the whole time,” said Hibbert.

The exhibit, however, did not meet all expectations; many hoped to see a real tiger.

“No tigers in a tiger exhibit! Bummer! But I did like the games,” said Francisco Rodriguez, a fifth grader.

Some students were under the impression that the hexagon-shaped cutouts they used to stamp at stations once they completed an activity would lead to prizes, “like a Dave & Buster’s,” Hibbert remarked.

“But overall most of the students were happy,” she noted.

Some were even inspired to have sympathy for the endangered species. “Tigers should be loved and helped, not killed,” said Jelani White, another fifth grader who was at the field trip. The main objective of the exhibition is to “get kids to care [about the tigers’ welfare],” emphasized Jennifer Rosenberg of BP Media Relations.

Amore runs Wildlife Worlds-Adventure in Nature Productions, a company devoted to animal conservation across the world.

The exhibition is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Those interested in attending the exhibit could purchase admission through Ticketmaster.com or visit the box office on the third floor of Pier 17.