Monday, September 24, 2012


Brief Interview With a Tiger

As part of our ongoing series of conversations with animals on policy and population control issues, we recently sat down with Bachuta, a Siberian tiger at the Bronx Zoo.

Hey, Bachuta.

Bachuta: I...I don't want to jump to conclusions here, but I'm worried that you're not actually here to talk to me about policy and population control issues.

Us: Hm?

Bachuta: It's because I ate that guy's foot, right?

Us: I mean, we thought it might come up, but only, like, because maybe it's related to zoo issues? Of...policy?

Bachuta: Yeah, see, I'm not comfortable with that. It's exploitative.

Us: Oh! Okay. No, totally. Totally.

(long pause)

Us: SO, have you, um, seen the trailer for "Life of Pi"? How about that glowing whale, right? Wild!

Bachuta: (removes mic clip from ruff, walks away)

(Bachuta turns around)

Bachuta: I'm not signing a photo waiver. Take some tiger stock image off the internet, or something.

Us: (mutters)

Bachuta: Excuse me?

Us: I said, "what are you going to do, eat my foot?"

Bachuta: Are your parents proud of what you do?

58 Comments / Post A Comment


Come on tiger, ya gotta appreciate that zinger.


This is the best thing on the internet today, and that includes the gallons of snarky Emmy fashion coverage. (It is a slow day at work, so I have in fact read the entire internet.) Brava, Nicole!


Still tetchy that the lion gets called "King of the Jungle" even though they aren't even from the jungle and you are actually bigger, eh Tiger?


@gobblegirl Tigers are bigger than lions?!


Note to all: if you google "tigers and lions" you will get pictures of ligers, which are SO FREAKING ADORABLE.


@SarahP ORRRRR of lions and tigers cuddling OMG


@SarahP The average adult male Siberian tiger is about 100 lbs bigger than the average adult male lion. Tiger subspecies make up the top three biggest (extant) cat types.

The Lady of Shalott

@gobblegirl Tigers need better PR.


@SarahP Which is, of course, how you get ligers in the first place.

mc coolfriend

@SarahP LIGERS are huuuuge. They are like, actually the size of a tiger AND a lion. It has something to do w/being a not entirely naturally occurring cross breed, but I am not sure what


@gobblegirl Maybe "hybrid vigor"? I have no idea if that is actually why, just love the dirty-sounding phrase.


@mc coolfriend Ooo! Ooo! I know this one! It all has to do with how their growth it regulated genetically due to inter-gender competition. Since male lions have sperm competition (females may mate with more than one male), the genes contributed by male lions are expressed as "Grow huge! Outcompete all the other babies that aren't mine so they starve and die!" but since the females don't want that because they want all their babies to survive regardless of father, genes contributed by her compensate and you end up with regular-size lions. For tigers, sperm competition is way less of a thing so genes from both parents give the "grow to a normal size signal". When you mix a female tiger and a male lion, her genes aren't suppressing the growth hormone signal his genes are contributing, so the liger makes more growth hormone that it would if it were all lion or all tiger.

Roaring Girl

@MilesofMountains I love you.



fondue with cheddar


Veronica Mars is smarter than me

I think Bachuta could have taken this opportunity to explain that he was just wrasslin' with a new friend, nbd. He ain't no man-eating tiger.


Everybody in life makes choices.


When are people ever going to learn that wild animals are wild animals? *Ahem* Grizzly Man.

My husband and I recently found out that his uncle, who lives in suburban Pittsburgh, saw movement on his back porch one nigh last month. He thought it was a possum or raccoon or something, so he ignored it, but then saw that the movement seemed too fluid. So he opened the back door and found a SEVEN FOOT PYTHON wrapped around the porch post. He ended up shooting it to death, because they have a small dog that goes outside and their neighbors have cats. But like, obviously Western PA is not crawling with pythons, so clearly some idiot got one as a "pet" and then somehow lost it or let it go. UGH.


@olivebee Marian Call, an amazing singer-songwriter from Alaska, had her apartment building recently visited BY A BEAR. They took video of it and it is amazing (although a really sad ending for the poor guy). Now I finally understand wanting a Bear for a pet.


@aliceandstuff Yeah, that's the problem. I LOVE animals, like more than the average human, so it really saddens me when a wild animal is kept in domesticity or captivity, because it often lashes out or comes too close for comfort, and then humans end up killing the animal. (See: all those wild animals that got killed in Ohio). I actually thought the story of Bachuta was going to end sadly for him and was pleasantly surprised when it didn't.

The Lady of Shalott

@aliceandstuff There was a news story this weekend where a family in the boonies in Ontario had bears BREAK IN to their house FOUR TIMES. And two of those times they made it into the kitchen and tore the door off the fridge.

At which point I would just give up and let the bears have the house. Look, they're clearly smarter than we think they are, they're LEARNING and they know where we keep the food!!!


Because the Hairpin is a place to share things that TERRIFY US, here is an article about how Burmese Pythons have taken over the Everglades and are going to expand to much of the rest of the country, nothing you can do about it. Despite being cold-blooded, they can even survive frost because they are very clever at finding warm places to hide (under your porch?).

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@The Lady of Shalott It's actually pretty sad when bears learn this type of behavior, because, at least in Montana, we hold it against them. When they get overly familiar with human places and don't show fear of humans while going into those places, they're usually put down by wildlife officials.


@The Lady of Shalott Yes. *nodding* Yes, they do seem smarter than the average bear.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Yep, a fed bear is a dead bear. It's really really hard to unteach bears that associate people with food, even if you move them away from people. I met someone who ended up with some pretty serious facial scars and PTSD when he was sent to work in a remote area and no one told him that's where they put the "problem bears" they move away from towns and cities.


Does moving the problem bears to a new place work? Don't they just fight with the bears already there?


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll It doesn't really work, no. They'll fight with bears in the new place, and most of the time they'll just walk back to where they started. I talked recently to a guy who moved some from a project site to about 300 miles away. He said it took about a week for them to make it back to the project site, even when they did it multiple times. He also said it's how he learned the American military watches any helicopters crossing remote sections of the US-Canadian border, and really doesn't like it when you drop off random bears on their side.


@MilesofMountains This is all so sad. Maybe someday we can live together with the bears.


I live in Juneau, too.

So, that particular bear was a repeat customer. It had been moved out to the hinterlands back in July and tagged and had come back to town recently. It had also been photographed on the roof of shops in the most tourist-filled parts of town and also sauntering past the downtown Wells Fargo, so it was definitely a bear all up in our collective faces.

Black bears aren't the MOST dangerous, but definitely not something you want habituated to city life.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@MilesofMountains Yeah, we have about eight or nine bear relocations each year where I live. They don't tend to stay where the wildlife people take them. They tend to roam right on back, eat some more chickens, and eventually get killed.


@olivebee If you want to really work yourself into a tizzy on this subject (and YOU DO), watch The Elephant in the Living Room. It is a documentary available on Netflix Instant Streaming about people who have "exotic pets."


@olivebee Did the forest sheriffs have to tell your friend it was a bad bears territory after the attack? I had a bear event (not on my face) close outside a house I will move into in a few years, and the forest sheriff was very evasive and unhelpful. Now I am suspicious.


@olivebee I watched Grizzly Man with an ecologist friend of mine. We treated it like a black comedy. Best night EVER.


You know what really scares me. Those little mite-things that supposedly live in my eyelashes. Worse than tigers.


@blissker My quality of life dropped about 10% when I found that out, and I see no way of coming back from it.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I learned - at Siegfried and Roy's tiger sanctuary in Vegas, NBD - that a grown tiger's paw is the size of a frying pan. Blew my mind. Then the tiger in question sprayed a man near his enclosure with his cat scent. It was gross/hilarious.


"You better bite it."

"Oh, it's already been bitten!"


@ejcsanfran SPIRIT FINGERS!!


Really, BlackBook? "He know has a metal rod in his foot"? I'd hope he knew about it.

(It seems to be a good day for spelling errors across the internet.)


I, for one, would like to see a roundtable discussion featuring all of the animals from this interview series, moderated by that surly jar of Nutella from a couple months back.


He spent about 10 minutes inside the pen, where he was attacked by Bachuta, an adult male tiger who bit his back and reportedly dragged him by his right ankle, mangling his foot. Villalobos told police that he was able to pet Bachuta at some point during all this

Dude, I don't even pet my domestic tabby when he nips at me. How the hell does "hey, let's pet the big kitty!" even enter your mind when that cat is mauling you alive?


@Poubelle This has happened before, I remember when it was a thing in San Francisco too.


@aliceandstuff People be crazy. Seriously, the crazy cat ladies who just live with too many housecats at once got nothing on these guys.


Also, every time I see a tiger I think "HOBBES!" and want to go build a transmogrifier or something.

(plz don't bring up the noodle incident k thnx)


Also the best part of this story is how the dude 'wanted to be one with the tigers'. Well you got your wish buddy, though not in the way you probably intended.


ha ha ha this was so great. If I were your parents I would be so proud of what you do! ;)

Nicole Cliffe

I met you in person and we had drinks and it was fun!




(it really was fun!!!)

fondue with cheddar

@redheaded&crazie HEEHEE cockpuppet.

Roaring Girl

Is this the place to be sad about the baby panda? YOU GUYS, THE BABY PANDA.

fondue with cheddar

@Roaring Girl Oh, no...I don't know about the baby panda. I don't want to know. But I do. :(


Y'all need to go read this book about a very intelligent and irritated tiger. It's just amazing.


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