So sang Jethro Tull in their song, “Bungle in the Jungle”. Perhaps the tiger that attacked his trainer at Australia Zoo recently (http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/australia-zoo-tiger-handler-recovering-after-attack-20131127-2ya2h.html) was only after some love and affection? Or perhaps he was fed up with being asked to jump through hoops and act like an overgrown pussy cat when all he really wanted was to be left alone and allowed to behave like a tiger? Despite being hand raised this tiger is still a wild animal with all the instincts that wild animals have. The trouble with hand raising is that it makes animals tame. Tame animals lose their fear of people. This can be an advantage for nervous animals that tend to panic and crash into fences but for a top order predator, like a tiger, it is only a recipe for disaster. I am aware of numerous cases of keepers having to defend themselves against attacks from hand raised animals, including kangaroos, deer and this tiger.
Zoos make things difficult for themselves by pandering to what they think the public wants: close encounters with wild animals. So they hand raise them to make them human friendly and perpetuate the misconception that wild animals are cute, cuddly and there for us to interact with. This leads to incidents like this one and numerous others where children try to pat wolves or parents smear honey on their kids’ faces so the nice bear will lick it off (along with the kid’s face).
By all means enjoy tigers and other wild animals but enjoy them as they were meant to be, as wild animals, not as some kind of deranged travesty that can’t decide if it’s wild, tame, tiger or human.
This is what I get for writing a positive article about zoos.
Dr. F. Bunny