“Lions and tigers are different.” We would hear that phrase over and over again around Animal Defenders International’s (ADI) Temporary Rescue Center.
“That’s obvious,” I thought – without really thinking. “Of course, they are. Just look at them! “
But then, as I stood at the edge of the exercise yard actually looking at them, I suddenly realized that I couldn’t think of anything else. They look different. Yes, of course, (who knew that tigers were this big) and what else?What does make lions and tigers different? I wondered. And thought.
I knew that lions live in prides. Did tigers? At that moment, I couldn’t recall. Lions have close family ties. Tigers? I remembered hearing somewhere that male tigers sire cubs and move on. Or was it mountain lions? Was that true? I wasn’t sure about that either. I searched my mind and could come up with very little that I actually knew about these magnificent great cats. How was it that I, who have loved animals my whole life, could actually know so little about them? I was shocked. That just wasn’t okay.
This situation was about to change, radically, in a way that would forever alter my life. I made the commitment right there to pay attention, to be willing to meet these animals in their world instead of flattening and folding them to fit into mine. I wasn’t sure what that meant then but I was determined to try. That commitment took me into a whole new world.
What had I learned from my experience of being with these 5 lions and 12 tigers during the span of these past few days? A few things:
First, tigers are a swirl of stripes. I knew that for sure. They’re playful and on the move. They love water! Playing in it. Pouncing in it. Splashing it. Dragging tires and tree branches and any other objects they’re given right into it. They love dozing in it. Especially dozing in it. And not just the 2 year-olds. They all revel in water – and playing together, engaging each other – even the adults, hiding and pouncing, charging and rolling.
As I stood there I knew that tigers are stripes and movement, energy and playfulness, and water worshipers.
And, tigers love togetherness.
But what about lions?
to be continued…