A Field Trip to the Toronto Zoo

What are these children looking at?

Yes, a tiger! The symbol of power, beauty, and independence. One of the fastest runners on our earth. But an endangered animal which only about 3000 of them are left in the world. I looked at his eyes and I felt a shiver. They told me to respect, to not forget who he is, or perhaps who he was… I remember how much my brother as a young boy loved them, how he knew everything about them, how their pictures were covered the wall of his bedroom … but he never saw one so close when he was a child … he read about them in books, he saw their pictures, and sometimes documentaries about them, in black-white … but he imagined them as wild, brave, and beautiful. In his fantasy they were not for  entertaining humans or raising their pity. Tigers were on our earth to be admired, to be dared to be one, and to hope never face one in a dark jungle …

But today, he’s in a cage in the Toronto Zoo right under the feet of these children. I wonder what they learn about him when seeing him so quiet, so bored, so under control, so inactive, …. To me, he’s just an illusion of what a free tiger is or should be …. What if the image that these children are building today is emphasized by the images that the Disney cartoons are building for them: images of funny, silly, pet-like and humanized tigers?

In my romanticized image of a tiger, I wish Rauz and these children would have never seen him so poor, disengaged, normalized, so un-tiger.

I wonder who is protecting who? Are we really worried about their endangered species? Or are we worried how our earth would be without them? What could then be the symbol of power, beauty, and speed for us? Who or what is replacing them?

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