Tiger Tests Life in Captivity, Chooses Freedom
A tiger walks into a zoo.
That may sound like the beginning of a joke, but in this case, it’s just the start of an fascinating story. Cats are known for their innate curiosity, and an endangered Bengal tiger in India proved to be no exception.
In April, keepers at India’s Nandankanan Zoo discovered that the wild male tiger had left the forest and — somehow — entered the zoo’s enclosed grounds. The zoo staff had no idea how the tiger had gotten in, but it didn’t take long to figure out why. By all indications, the lovestruck kitty was attracted to the zoo’s female tiger, which, unsurprisingly, lives in an enclosure.
Concerned by the presence of a dangerous animal wandering the grounds, the zoo prepared a twenty-person team to capture the wild cat before he could attack anyone. However, before the plan was implemented, zookeepers tried a wild idea: opening the female’s cage door.
Amazingly, the wild tiger strolled right in, happy to meet his potential new mate. The zoo staff then found themselves with a new problem on their hands: what to do with the second tiger. The cat, however, had no such worry.
For a month, he made himself at home, availing himself to the free food, shade and sedentary lifestyle that comes with being a captive animal.
But then he apparently got bored.
Tired of life in a cage, the tiger opted to leave the zoo as suddenly as he arrived. Using the same ninja skills that got him into the zoo, he broke out — a feat that should have been impossible. The cat escaped by scaling the zoo’s two-story security wall, an exit that was mostly caught on video, until, like any good escape artist, the tiger severed the camera’s wiring.
“The Central Zoo Authority guidelines prescribe a 16-foot height for enclosure wall, but this enclosure wall was higher,” Chief Wildlife Warden, J D Sharma, told the New Indian Express. “The tiger apparently climbed the walls using the angle irons fitted at 8 feet and 16 feet height to support the structure. There is enough evidence of it walking on top of the wall.”
As for the animal’s current whereabouts, locals say the tiger hasn’t been seen since its prison break, although they believe he may still be in the nearby forests.