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.


During Hurricane Ike, Texas Went to the Cats

September 18, 2008

By Yul

No one knows if Shackle, the 11-year-old lioness, thanked God for saving one of her nine lives during Hurricane Ike on September 15-16. But she took a fancy to His altar at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Beach, Texas, after spending the night there with a bunch of humans.

Did Shackle find religion? (Photo - Tony Gutierrez, AP)

Did Shackle find religion? (Photo - Tony Gutierrez, AP)

Shackle and her owner, Michael Ray Kujawa, were trying to drive to higher ground when they got caught in rising floodwaters on the Bolivar Peninsula. The media reported that Shackle was a zoo animal, but a commenter in the Dallas News who claimed to know the cat said Shackle is actually a pet, tame enough for occasional outings at the beach.

That would certainly explain her pious behavior in church. After humans helped Shackle calmly wade into First Baptist, they apparently had second thoughts and locked her in a sanctuary. At one point, the water inside the church got waist-deep, but they said Shackle remained cool as a cucumber.

Makes you wonder if maybe Shackle should have locked them up for their own safety.

When the worst was over, they let Shackle out and fed her roast pork so she wouldn’t try snacking on People Chow before the National Guard arrived with supplies. The only time they were reminded who’s still Queen of the Jungle was when Shackle allegedly snarled at some Guardsmen who were gawking at her from the choir loft.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, a tiger escaped from an exotic pets center was wandering around. Last word was that no one’s trying too hard to catch him because they think he’s hungry.


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