LITTLE VALLEY — Witness the awe-inspiring act of Brunon Blaszak’s Royal Tiger Show at this year’s Cattaraugus County Fair through Aug. 4.
Among this year’s free grounds entertainment, the act is part of Blaszak’s “Fang and Claw” tour. The show features Blaszak’s eight magnificent Royal Bengal, Siberian and Sumatran tigers that walk the tight wire and perform choreographed leaping, jumping and dancing.
The act offers performances that are educational, informative and exciting — all with a conservation message. Blaszak said a big part of his show is educating people about tigers. His is not a typical act like people would see at a circus; it’s more informative and educational.
“I present my tigers to display some of their behaviors and tricks, as well to make it a show,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing watching these magnificent creatures.”
Protected by the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES), the tiger is an endangered species and a particularly special animal. Blaszak’s expertise in working with them shows in the vast knowledge he gives the audience during his performances.
According to Blaszak, if it weren’t for tigers in captivity, there might not be any left 15-20 years from now. He said the cats have been an endangered species for many years, some since the 1930s.
“I educate the public to raise awareness of the dwindling numbers of tigers in the world and their possible extinction,” he said. “I tell people about these tigers and what has happened to them in wild — the hunting, poaching and loss of habitat.”
Blaszak said mankind is pretty much the tigers’ biggest enemy. People have hunted the tiger relentlessly for its beautiful skin, prized trophy head and in defense of livestock. He said the greatest threat to tigers today is loss of habitat.
“It’s sad because the animals in the wild don’t have a fighting chance. Some people don’t care because it’s all about the money,” he said. “People like me and those who have zoos and reserves are the animals’ last frontier. It’s a safe frontier because they’re being cared for and feed. If they get sick, they get vet care.”
According to Blaszak, his tigers are under a health program by the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and is supervised by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior. Each animal is housed in its own cage, and they travel in a well-insulated, well-ventilated semi-trailer that is equipped with air/ride.
As a third-generation tiger trainer, Blaszak said the act has been in his family for quite some time and he learned how to train and show tigers from his parents and grandparents. He and his mother, Ada Smieya-Blaszak, are fully devoted to preserving these magnificent tigers for many generations to come.
Blaszak said his tigers live on his 10-acre compound in Florida, where he works with them all winter to keep them well-trained. He has different tigers for different purposes — some have even worked in movies and commercials.
“On location, we connect all the cages together daily and create a tunnel with 70-feet of walking space to let them run free in the arena, which is 40-feet,” he said. “During wintertime, when we are home, the animals are transferred too much larger cages of about 80-square feet for each tiger.”
Blaszak said the animals don’t mind performing in the colder months if they can be indoors at a coliseum or arena.
“Siberians are the only species of tiger that come from a very cold part of the world,” he said. “All the rest are pretty much from a rain forest climate.”
Blaszak’s hope is to help ensure that people will continue to love and learn about these beautiful “big cats.” For more information, visit his website at brunostigers.com.