DEADLY big cats look more like domestic pets in a stunning new book of feline photographs.
Carefully pieced together over a year 'Big Cat Studio' lets readers get up close to ocelots, leopards, pumas, lynx, lions and tigers.
The Sun : 23 Nov 2009
The cats were photographed in a specially constructed studio at The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The mesmerising collection of snaps shows the rarest of big cats, all aged between three weeks and 28 years.
Dr Bhagavan (Doc) Antle, T.I.G.E.R.S group founder and director, said: "The key to producing photographs as intimate as these was the close attention and skill of the cat handlers here at T.I.G.E.R.S in Myrtle Beach.
"My son Cody who's 20 and my 15-year-old daughter Tawny Sky have been in close contact with tigers and big cats since they were kids and were involved too."
Photographed in a former elephant enclosure which forms part of Doc's T.I.G.E.R.S preserve, the big cats were encouraged to play up for the camera in a variety of ways.
"We use pieces of meat to excite and to act as treats, as well as large stuffed toys and even feather boas, which the cats find amusing.
"But the most important aspect is the well-being of the animals. They need regular breaks and lunch to keep them calm.
"One of the benefits of shooting at our own preserve is that the animals are completely comfortable within their own surroundings."
Big Cat Studio represents the intricate variety within the big cat family, from small South American Ocelot's to impressive Royal White tigers.
Part of the proceeds from the book are going to help the conservation work Doc does in preventing the decline in population of big cats.
Photographing the two dozen sessions was British photographer Barry Bland, who said: "It was a most memorable experience to be part of and not totally without fear."