Tenikwa policies and guidelines have been established to ensure that your visit is enjoyable, safe and that the animals you will see, continue to be trusting of humans. We don’t want to make the rules onerous, but at the same time, wild animals, no matter how tame, are still wild animals.
Each adult (persons over 18 years of age) will be required to read and sign an Indemnity before partaking in any activity at Tenikwa. Parents and Adults responsible for minors (persons 18 and under 18 years of age) will be required to read and sign an Indemnity on behalf of the minor, and will be responsible for the minor and the minor’s behaviour whilst at the facility. Educators and persons co-ordinating tours for minors will be responsible for signing the indemnity on behalf of the minors in their care.
A safe experience is paramount at Tenikwa. We will not compromise our safety protocol under any circumstances if by doing so, we place you or our cats in an unsafe situation.
No visitors will be allowed to visit the animals unless they are part of the guided tour and accompanied by a Tenikwa guide. The visitor may have the option to remain outside the enclosure, if they feel anxious about the experience, and the guide will do his best to accommodate the visitors who remain outside the enclosure, bearing in mind, that it may not be possible to view the animals if the animals do not come forward to the entrance. At times, due to various environmental influences, the guide may deem it unsafe to enter a particular enclosure with the visitors, and we ask that you respect the guide’s judgement in this regard, since we are dealing with animals who are wild at heart.
The Wild Cat Experience is suitable for all ages. Babies who cry during the tour do upset the cats, and we request that if the infant continues to cry, that the mother and infant return to the centre, and complete the tour when the infant has settled down. Prams cannot be taken into the enclosures. Infants can be carried in backpacks. (Not provided) Children under 6 may need to be carried in their parent’s arms in some of the enclosures. The guide’s discretion will determine whether it is safe for children to enter some enclosures and what distance to remain from the cats. Parents must please ensure that children do not run, crouch down, lie or sit on the ground when in or near the enclosures.
The Wild Ways, Photographic Adventure and Cats in Conservation Programs have a recommended age and height requirement. At all times, it remains Tenikwa’s prerogative to decide whether a person is suitable to participate in a program. Children on any program must be accompanied by at least 1 related adult (per 3 children) who takes responsibility for them on the program, unless they are part of a school group tour in which case, they must be accompanied by a designated Educator.
There is no dress requirement for the Wild Cat Experience, The EcoKidz Family Challenge or The Private Tour. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended for other programs. The nature of the Wild Ways, Photographic Adventure and Cats in Conservation Programs require comfortable walking shoes. Muted colour clothing is always advisable. Long trousers for both ladies and gents are practical options on the Wild Ways, Photographic Adventure and Cats in Conservation Programs. It is advisable to put sunglasses in a safe place during programs, because they may get lost during the way. Backpacks and bulky bags may not be taken on tour and should be locked safely in your vehicle prior to the commencement of the program.
Photographing your experience is welcomed, however we would like you to take away more than just a digital memory so please do not allow your camera to dominate your experience. See these beautiful creatures with your own eyes. There are a few guidelines on photographic etiquette that we wish to bring to your attention :
- Take pictures of the cats not with the cats.
- No flash photography is allowed.
- The animals will not be posed, restrained in any way, or forced to behave in an unnatural way for photographs.
- Cameras are not to be shoved in the face of the animal if it approaches you.
- No disrespectful poses or hand-signs will be tolerated in a photograph and selfies are not allowed.
- We request that you refrain from taking selfies with the cats, or asking others to take photos of you with the cats during tour.
- The guide is there to provide knowledge and ensure your safety. He is not there to take photographs, and is not allowed to move back out of the picture frame as he will not be in a position to intervene if an unsafe situation presents itself.
- Camera straps must be held and not left dangling, as this may encourage the cat to play with the strap.
- Camera bags and backpacks may not be put on the ground in the enclosure, and it is preferred that they remain outside the enclosure.
- Do not approach the cheetahs directly, crouching down with your camera. This may be seen as confrontational behaviour.
- Do not stray from the group whilst taking photographs in the enclosure.
- It is not safe for very small infants to be in close proximity to the animals, so parents, please do not place your child in a risk position, just to get a photograph.
We have daily photographic tours available which is aimed at photography enthusiasts. If your main purpose for visiting Tenikwa, is to get photographs, please consider joining The Private Tour or Photographic Adventure instead of the normal Wild Cat Experience.
It is a great privilege to be able to get so close to these animals. Please do not spoil it for others, and make our animals afraid of humans, just so that you can get your picture.
Animal Contact and Interaction
The animals at Tenikwa are unrestrained in their enclosures and whilst we offer the opportunity to see them at close quarters, it is not appropriate to allow physical contact with them. Cats sometimes come up and may try to initiate contact of their own accord, however this is discouraged and beforehand, the guide will explain how you are to behave in this regard.
Our visitors have the amazing opportunity to enter some of our animals enclosures with our trained guides, providing them with the opportunity to take exquisite pictures. Tenikwa has since 2017 implemented a no touch policy on all our programs.
At times of the day, the cats are more active (morning, late afternoon). If the cats are sleeping, this is natural behaviour, and it would be invasive to disrupt a midday snooze. The guide will determine whether it is safe to approach the animals based on an assessment of the people and the animal’s behaviour, please respect his judgement – they work with the animals every day, and know each animal intimately. During The Wild Ways program, our cheetahs are free to express natural behavior and its a privilege to observe this but not to interfere with this special time of their day.
Our animal contact policy follows a strict code of ethics which is compiled to ensure that the human-wildlife experience is in keeping with the natural behavior of the animal and conforms to internationally recognised standards.
Tenikwa continually reviews its Animal Contact and Interaction Policy and reserves the right to change it at any given time should it deem the level of interaction allowed to be unwelcomed by the cats or in the best interest of guest safety.
Tipping or rewarding your guide is not something that is expected, but if you had a safe and informative tour, the guides do appreciate a small token. If you feel that your guide placed anyone in the party in an unsafe position in order to get a tip, please report it to reception.
Animals in Captivity
In accordance with wildlife rehabilitation best practice protocols, animals under rehabilitation should not be exposed to the general public, as this may increase habituation and reduce their chance of being returned to the wild. All animals and birds which are brought to our rehabilitation centre are raised with the sole intent of return to the wild. If this is not feasible, a long-term care, or sanctuary will be found for them. In accordance with our rehabilitation permit, birds and animals accepted into our rehabilitation centre may only stay in captivity on a temporary basis before being released or re-assessed.
Animals that you will see during your program or visit to Teniwka were born in captivity, acquired and hand-raised at Tenikwa with the specific purpose of raising awareness of why the various species are disappearing from the wild. Most of the cats at Tenikwa are now middle-aged and will live out their lives at Tenikwa. In more recent years, Tenikwa has been able to provide a home for a limited number of confiscated animals that have a role to play in supporting our objectives of raising awareness of issues causing the decline of South African wild cats and human-wildlife conflict. We do not breed or trade with animals for commercial purposes.