Tiger Tale with a Happy Ending

August 31, 2010

By Cole

It happened on August 28 at Jungle Island in Miami. A white-handed gibbon named Watson got out of his enclosure and taunted a 3-year-old Bengal tiger named Mahesh, causing Mahesh to jump his 12-foot chain link fence with a 2-foot barbed wire overhang and take a stroll through the zoo.

Mahesh (Photo - NBC)

Lucky for Mahesh, the humans screaming and running in all directions didn’t particularly interest him. At one point, he even came face-to-face with a 2-year-old girl. The big cat and the kid just stood there until the girl’s mother picked her up and quietly walked away. That act earned the woman one of those excruciatingly dull “15 minutes of fame” interviews on the Today Show, where Matt Lauer tries to milk a whole segment out of what I just told you, getting monosyllabic responses to his attempts to make the experience tense and horrifying.

MSNBC even went so far as to call it a “tale of survival.”

After about 20 minutes on the lam, Mahesh was coaxed into a cage and didn’t even need to be tranquilized. For now, he’s relaxing out of the public eye while the humans “investigate.”

This incident has been compared to the experience of late Tatiana at the San Francisco zoo. She was taunted by three human boys, escaped and killed one, and was shot dead, causing Cats Working to ask, “How High Can Tigers Jump?

If people haven’t figured it out yet, Mahesh gave them the answer again: “As high as they need to.”

Even though the fence is already 2 feet higher than state law requires, and no one was hurt, the state is considering charging the zoo’s owner with something so they can fine him. Anything for a buck. And they want the fence extended to 14 feet with a 4-foot overhang.

But at least Mahesh is still alive and not in any trouble.

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