Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thailand Journal – Entry 12 - Random Facts

I have nothing better to post, so I will offer some mildly interesting facts about myself (relating to tigers, of course)!

1) I was born in both the year of the tiger (and the lunar cycle of the tiger too!).

Perhaps an interesting coincidence...perhaps fate. Who knows? I'm not sure if I was born during the ruling hours of the tiger (3AM-5AM), but I don't think so. Still, I think it is pretty neat. Wikipedia states:

"Tiger people are difficult to resist, for they are magnetic characters and their natural air of authority confers a certain prestige on them. They are tempestuous yet calm, warm-hearted yet fearsome, courageous in the face of danger yet yielding, soft and mysterious. They enjoy a life full of challenges and unexpected events, like visiting unusual places and meeting interesting or outstanding people. Other people in their area are easily attracted by the tiger's enthusiasm and way of life. Tigers find pleasure in the unpredictable, and while other people would rather make a backward step, they are not afraid to explore the new and unusual. But it is not that simple to interest the Tiger. What they really need is first-hand experience. Usually open and frank, these people are likely to withdraw and can be aggressive when trapped. As soon as the Tiger has regained their sense of security their confidence also returns, enabling them to set out once more. These people usually tend to trust their instincts, though there is another side of their personality, which assesses situations thoughtfully before they launch any actions. Their friends usually secretly admire their determination and optimism, though sometimes may find it complicated to share the Tiger's enthusiasm and can be pushed away and left behind. Although Tigers can be courageous and generous friends, if they are not able to achieve what they want, they can be inflexible and self-centered. So if your friend was born in the year of the Tiger, there will be highs and lows in your friendship, but the friendship itself will remain firm."

Notable celebrities born in the year of the tiger include, Steve Irwin, Karl Marx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Marco Polo, David Attenborough, and Ludwig Van Beethoven.

It is important to remember that it is not our birth or beliefs that make us who we are, but our actions; however, I find some of the coincidences fascinating.

The next year of the tiger will be in 2010, which will be the year I graduate.

2) My Thai name is... "Tiger"

Not really a big surprise, but nonetheless fun. I believe it was one of the program coordinators who first started calling me "เสือ" or "sĕua". Students typically get Thai names while in the program, but so far I am the only one who has recieved one.

3) Tatiana the Tiger Hates Me

Tatiana is an Amur (Siberian) tigress with cubs at the Toronto Zoo.

What is interesting is that she seems to harbor an immense dislike for me. I hate to say it, but it is what I've concluded after several visits with her. Every time I have come to visit her she has seen me, growled, hissed and showed her long teeth. At first, I thought it was just an issue regarding my clothing choice ([link]). However, my subsequent visits told me otherwise.

After she had cub and she showed her dislike for me even more intensely. She will see me and not only will she show the warning signs above, but she will also lunge at the glass toward me ([link] , [link] ). Needless to say, if that glass were not there, she would have killed me in a second. People may feel tough behind glass and fences, but they should respect the incredible power of these animals. It is both terrifying and awe-inspiring.

I'm would imagine she might do this to others as well, but what is interesting is that even with a crowd of over 2 dozen, if I'm in sight she'll single me out (much to the delight of the other zoo-goers). It is not uncommon for zoo animals to take a particular interest in people, positive and negative, but I'm a little disappointed that I would have that effect on a tiger. The other tigers I meet generally have neutral to favorable opinions of me and even major zoo tigers (who by all rights should ignore me) will occasionally chuff at me when I do it to them.

Some people might respond to something like this with anger or disrespect for the animal. After all, people go to zoos preoccupied with the idea that the animals are supposed to like them. However, I see it as further proof of how amazing this species is.

The tiger is a legendary mother and there are very few things more terrifying than the power and courage shown by one defending her cubs. From the tiger's perspective, I am taller and thus, much larger than her. Yet, at the same time, she has no hesitation to stand between me and her cubs and go on the attack.

The virtue of the tiger is most certainly courage. I have experienced it for myself. This animal deserves tremendous respect.