Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

A happy ending was had by all November 6, 2008

The only large animal I feel safe communing with.

The only large animal I feel safe communing with.

It’s never a popular thing when tigers are running around loose. Remember that whole mess at the SF Zoo last year? Not good.

Although it’s never occurred to me to taunt the zoo animals, I also thought I could be fairly confident in my assumption that they couldn’t get out and make actual physical contact. I once had something going on at the Vancouver Aquarium where a large male sea lion got really heated up every time I came near the glass. He was ramming it like something out of “Jaws 3-D,” and I was glad there was no way he could get to me…right? I have through the years made the same false assumptions with land animals, and in my folly I sometimes give them dirty looks or maybe just a stern glare just to remind them who’s boss.

However, it seems like the odds of confronting a tiger in unexpected locales – like in  a quiet neighborhood or even in your house – is increasing.

3 tigers escape circus truck in western Mexico

The local newspaper Cambio de Michoacan says the escaped felines holed up in house in the western city of Zitacuaro. When the tigers started breaking down the home’s fence, police lobbed them chickens to eat until a dogcatcher and the animals’ trainer arrived.

The big cats were recaptured Wednesday and taken to a local police station where they were held until their owner agreed to pay for the chickens and damage to the fence.

Now, if you’ve ever been in Mexico and seen the circus truck roll through town this is not entirely shocking. If there’s ever been a situation screaming “OSHA violation” or “Bad Idea on Wheels” the Mexican circus truck parade is it. Wild animals come rolling down small cobblestone streets in cages barely fit to restrain a hamster.  Sometimes they even let the ‘tame’ ones (like camels) walk alongside. I would have to imagine the mix of smells and chaos and temptation is overwhelming for your average white Bengal tiger. Like throwing chum to great white sharks.

This reminds me of a vacation I took in Belize about four years ago. We were on the island of Ambergris, where there are no cars, only bicycles and golf carts. However, as I recall, we didn’t have either when we came upon a large crowd gathered around a sand bar. After a few inquiries, what we learned was that an (alleged) 13-foot crocodile lived out in the surrounding waters. Three Einsteins had tied ropes around raw chickens and were casting them out into the water to tempt the croc onto the land.

“Are you guys from Jackass?” I asked one of them, and he gave me a dirty look. I actually could see the beast out in the water, and that’s when I started to do the math: Crocodiles can run. On a good day, I could outrun one, but what about a day when I’d had a questionable number of Belikin beers and was simultaneously terrified? Everyone else had a bicycle or a golf cart. If I were a crocodile, I’d go for the stupid (albeit skinny) lady on foot. Beats raw chickens any day.


However, just like the Mexican home invasion, my story has a happy ending…which is to say nothing really happened. Down in Belize, the crocodile stayed in the water and we wandered on. And it seems, in Mexico, the fence and chickens having been reimbursed, the tigers returned to their illustrious circus careers, planning their escape for another day.


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