Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Mouth of the Tiger!


Just when I started feeling comfortable in my kitchen, I looked out the dining room door and saw what looked like a giant rat with a baby giant right behind it heading toward the side of the house. Now, logic says that they weren’t rats; their tails were furry (spiky hair) and they were just too big. And ugly.

A quick phone call to a friend reassured me they were polecats. Harmless. They eat rats. I’ve heard them in each house I’ve been in in Sri Lanka. They climb onto the roof and do what they do. Make lots of noise.

Great, more wildlife!

I checked to make sure that all doors and windows were closed. Got Toby ready for the polecat challenge if need be.

I don’t remember having so many wild animals by my house in California. The most obnoxious was a tomcat in heat, yowling all night. There were no raccoons; a few squirrels and once I saw a Mountain Cat on a walk in Muir Woods. He looked at me. I looked at him. We both went our separate ways. Too shocking to get a photo.

There was another time when it was too shocking to get a photo. My daughter and I had gone to see my husband’s clients’ Bengal Tigers. There was an 8-year-old and a youngster about 6-month-old. The client, I forget his name but I’ll call him Chuck. We went on a walk with both tigers leashed by big chains. I’d say Big Tiger weighed about 800lbs (that’s 362K) and Baby Tiger about 200lb. They seemed well mannered and I was even encouraged to pet Big Tiger. Chuck said, ‘If he looks at you, punch him in the face to back him off.’

Punch a tiger. Right.

I kneeled next to Big Tiger, my heart pounding savagely. I’m sure Big Tiger smelled my fear, but he let me hug him. Someone took photos. Big Tiger turned his head and looked at me in the eyes. I punched his VW-sized face and he turned away.

All was well, although, writing about it is making my pulse race.

Near their cages, Chuck asked my daughter if she wanted to sit on his knee next to Big Tiger. I don’t really remember how enthusiastic she was, but I do remember that she sat on Chuck’s knee for a few seconds. And then Big Tiger, with his big incisors, turned to my daughter and gently opened his giant jaws and just ever so slightly grazed her knee with those sparkling white teeth. No blood, of course, just testing the waters. Was she a toy, or breakfast?

Get the photo or save my child - there was no second thinking on that shot. I didn’t get the photo.

Not like the guy on the web who took a photo of his kid’s head in the camel’s mouth!

Me, with Big Tiger!

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