Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Proposal

One of the tigers was restless again last Friday, pacing and pacing at the edge of the water in its enclosure.

Any activity like this on the part of the large cats generates tremendous excitement in zoo visitors. Parents exhort their children to “Say, ‘Hi, kitty’!” and other dangerous phrases (“Say, ‘How long has it been since you’ve last eaten, kitty?’,” I sometimes mutter); children yell at the cats, trying to get their attention, sometimes by insulting them (again, humans: no self-preservation at all).

Some people, eyeing the half-snarling tiger with a degree of wariness that I approve of, ask uncertainly, “Can tigers swim…?” –The answer, by the way, is: yes, they can. The sides of the enclosure, however, are too high, and the electric fencing at the top too much of a deterrent, to allow the tigers to swim to freedom. At least, that’s what I tell myself. Nevertheless, I’ve always been just a little relieved that no tiger has entered the water while I’ve been watching them—and so I was surprised to hear a couple of young boys urging the tiger to “Swim! Swim!”

Now, if I had just seen a tiger gaze past the not-big-enough pool of water separating us and stare at me with a calculating expression, as if considering the value (in terms of energy expended to caloric content gained) of escaping its enclosure and eating me—I would not be so eager to encourage it in its goal. But one of the boys—driven to new, ingenious measures to convince the tiger—exclaimed, “Come on, swim! –I’ll pay you!” There was a pause as he perhaps considered, as I did, what incentive that would be for a large cat, and then he added, “I’ll pay you in chickens!”

The tiger didn’t seem too interested in taking him up on the offer. I wouldn’t have, either; there was no way a little kid like that was going to get his hands on enough chickens.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...