Tigers and Tempers


F_OC15_Vetpic.jpgThe recent tragic death of a zoo keeper in Hamilton following an attack by a tiger reminds us that animals are — just that — animals. They react instinctively in certain circumstances and aggression is a normal behaviour that is obviously dangerous. Tigers have a natural instinct to react to quick movement and probably saw the keeper as prey. 

The tiger called Oz, is a rare Sumatran Tiger.  He was probably showing normal tiger behaviour but in an unfortunate situation that resulted in the keepers death. The fate of the Oz is unclear but safety systems need to be addressed rather than blaming the animal for instinctive behaviour.  

Even though most of us don’t have tigers, our pets and farm animals all have the potential to be dangerous. Even your pet mouse can give you a nasty bite.  It’s important that we recognise what situations will stress them and understand that this is when they are most likely to bite, scratch, kick or charge at us.  

Invading territory, threatening personal space especially during feeding, and cornering are all situations where an animal when pushed too far, will lash out. Strangers and unfamiliar environments will heighten anxiety.  

We need to read the animal to decide when it might be better to back off or take a submissive role. 

I always remember Sir David Attenborough’s advice – when being charged by a troop of aggressive gorillas – don’t panic and run, kneel down with your bottom up in the air. 

My advice is never get yourself in that situation.

F_R_OtakiVetOtaki Veterinary Centre

269 Mill Road, Otaki 06 364 6941

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Angela Ford BVM&S MRCVS MACVSc Emma & Jen — Veterinary nurses

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