Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Looking Back at Our Journey to Tiger Trail

It seems like just yesterday Dylan was making a birthday wish, a wish that seemed almost impossible for a 9-year-old-boy, a wish that would forever change his world.

However, it was not yesterday, it was two years ago. A wish that has taken two years to become a reality.

A wish to help save the tigers.

The kindness of a stranger brought a beautiful tiger painting into our home - Recognition from the White House gave Dylan another sense of pride for his conservation work - Getting to go behind the scenes and meet Danai, Connor, and Christopher was the icing on the cake. Now, we are ready for the final stop of our journey.

About a year ago the signs started going up and the paths to the see the tigers began closing. As much as we loved seeing Joanne and Majel, seeing these signs meant we were that much closer to the new Tiger Trail opening.

I never thought Dylan would be so happy to not see the tigers, but the day that we walked up to this he proved me wrong.

Now, instead of seeing the tigers we got to see his birthday wish come true. Right before our eyes, visit after visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, we watched the construction of Tiger Trail.

From the early groundbreaking with just a few bulldozers ...

To the sight of something more ...

This was no small task. Everyone had a job to do and each visit brought us closer to seeing Tiger Trail. A 5.2 acre habitat for the six Sumatran tigers who call the Safari Park home.

Could this possibly be the new tiger bedrooms?

 In January 2014, we finally got to see a glimpse of the longhouse. This was really happening.

I am so happy that I took these pictures over the past year and a half. Looking back at our journey, seeing where it all started, and knowing that so many people helped to make Dylan's birthday wish for the tigers come true with their donations in his name brings such joy to my heart.

Knowing that Dylan will have his name on a plaque at the exhibit, as one of the many people who helped raise the $19.5 million it took to create Tiger Trail, gives me a sense of pride that I can't even begin to put into words. As strong advocates for tiger conservation, Dylan and I are honored to be attending a special celebration on Thursday, May 22 before Tiger Trail officially opens to the public.

We have been counting down the days - the excitement is getting harder to contain - a birthday present two years in the making is now less than 48 hours away.

You can read more about Dylan's Tiger Trail journey by visiting our Wish for the Tigers page.

The official opening of the Tull Family Tiger Trail is Saturday, May 24, 2014

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