We’ve all heard that zookeepers can form strong emotional bonds with the animals in their care.But this striking video captures a tiger Repay the care by saving the zookeeper from a leopard attack in a Mexican zoo!
When we join the scene, five lionesses are interacting with Eduardo Serio, the curator of a big cat zoo in Mexico City. His connection to the relaxed lion is clear from their body language. They adopt a playful and relaxed position, lying on their back with their bellies exposed. As Eduardo lay resting in the grass, she could even tap a rhythm on the lion’s ribs. At the same time, the tiger Aztlan was resting nearby, seemingly guarding this moving scene. As Eduardo chatted to the camera in Spanish and English, the lion raised her leg and rubbed her belly, clearly enjoying the human attention.
However, we soon realize that not all of the resident big cats love Eduardo as much as the lions – one leopard seems to suddenly dislike him! In the background, Dharma the leopard lurks, examining the scene disdainfully, while partially hiding under a tree. Finally, the leopard could bear it no longer, and approached the group from behind in a circle. At first, the practice was rather casual and went completely unnoticed by zookeepers and lions. But unable to get past Aztlan, he can see exactly what is going to happen and intervene.
When the leopard started running and accelerated rapidly, the tiger assumed a crouching attack position, intercepting the spotted intruder before it could reach Eduardo. We see Tiger leap forward and Dharma perform a spectacular leap into the air to avoid a collision. The commotion in the background caught the attention of photographers and zookeepers, who turned around just in time to see Dharma rushing towards him with the faithful Aztlan in hot pursuit. With a sharp “Hey!” he turned and helped the tiger dump Dhurma on his back. Even so, the leopard surreptitiously smacked the keeper’s leg with his paw and rolled over, looking a bit embarrassed by his outburst!
After the job was done, Tiger casually walked away, and the keeper thanked him with a cheery “thank you.”
Leopards have a reputation for being the bad guys among the big cats. Leopards were involved in 31 of 63 wildlife deaths in India last year. They are solitary animals and don’t like to live with other people – as we saw at the beginning of this video. These are the sprinters of the cat world and can go up to 30 mph, so poor Eduardo will never outrun this attacker!
But in a real tiger-leopard confrontation, the weak leopard cannot beat the mighty tiger. A flick of an angry tiger’s paw can hold 18,000 pounds, enough to send a leopard flying!
If we got you interested in big cat action, check out these other great videos!
- An adult male lion challenges the White Tiger King and his pride
- Watch crazy footage of adult lion and tiger fighting in China
- Man bravely attacks mountain lion to save his dog (graphics!)
- Bold cougar forces giant tiger four times its size to retreat
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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