Since it is Valentine’s Day, it’s natural that we talk about tigers!
The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest extant cat species and a member of the genus Panthera. It is most recognizable for its dark vertical stripes on orange-brown fur with a lighter underside. It is an apex predator, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and wild boar. It is territorial and generally a solitary but social predator, requiring large contiguous areas of habitat, which support its requirements for prey and rearing of its offspring. Tiger cubs stay with their mother for about two years, before they become independent and leave their mother’s home range to establish their own.
The tiger is among the most recognizable and popular of the world’s charismatic megafauna. It featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore and continues to be depicted in modern films and literature, appearing on many flags, coats of arms and as mascots for sporting teams. The tiger is the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and South Korea.
Probably the most famous tiger is Hobbes. Unfortunately, Hobbes is not available to be interviewed, so instead we will explore the behaviors of tigers in the wild. (Yes, this is what happens when the Great Covid Panic of 2020 shuts down travel.)
According to the internet, “The tiger mates all year round.” We assume they take breaks for sleeping and eating, but, hey, when have you ever known the internet to be wrong?
These are lady tigers. You can tell because their chests are less hairy than boy tigers.
When no male tigers are available, female tigers will seek the companionship of other females to satisfy their carnal needs. Just like human females….
A male tiger poses for the females, knowing that his presidential orange hair is an irresistible aphrodisiac.
The virgin tigress strikes a fetching pose and gives her best come-hither look to the male.
The male tiger, overcome with tigerly lust, begins to remove the tigress’ teat coverings with a blade, which he just happens to have. However, his aggressive nature frightens her.
The male quickly changes his methods, offering a can of tuna, which he also just happened to be carrying. This gesture attracts the other female.
Soon, the male tiger takes both females as mates. Not at the same time, however; that’s just the way the photograph makes it look.
The male tiger, bat’leth in paw, stands watch over his newly-pregnant females.
Royal Mating Rituals
As with people, storks, and many kinds of Asian beetles, there is a hierarchy in the world of tigers.
A young tigress royally sits on her royal behind, blasé to the world around her. Just another day, I suppose….
A handsome suitor approaches, desiring to mate year round. However, something interesting catches the royal eye of the royal Princess.
Her royal tigress realizes that he might spray her if she refuses his advances, so she reluctantly allows him to touch her royal paw.
The courtship begins. The male puts on his best moves, but the Princess is unimpressed. If only he hadn’t used all his tuna on the other two females!
Tiger Cupid appears, her clothing blood-stained from a night of archeric mischief. Bows are not designed for tiger paws, and she struggles to place the arrow. Oh, the tiger-ity!
Tiger Cupid shoots her magic dart at the feet of the tiger Princess, who appears to be unaware of the presence of the demi-god. The male tiger lustily anticipates the imminent conquest.
Within moments they are in their tiger lingerie, as the tiger Princess succumbs to the influence of Cupid’s arrow.
The now-Royal couple poses for the tiger paparazzi. The kingdom will soon be blessed with many cubs, thanks to demi-divine intervention.
Affairs of the Heart
Even when mated, tigers, being tigers, do what they want. I mean, what’s the point of being a tiger if you have to follow a bunch of rules?
The salacious male wraps his tail proprietarily around a supple female, who is quite taken with his tigerhood.
In these never-before seen photographs, the male ceremoniously mounts the female, examining her haunches for firmness and pliability. And probably spraying her to mark his territory.
In a strange turn of events, the female and her cohort dominate the male. He resists, but soon submits to their efforts. And she is probably marking her territory, too.
Other females join this curious tumble, and the male becomes ceremoniously erect.
The mating ritual begins in earnest as the chosen female submits to the males tigerly attentions. She is unconcerned by the impending puncture wounds.
The female, helpless against the vast power of the male, looks one more time to her cohort, wondering what will become of herself in the paws of someone so tigerful.
As the mating ritual continues to the mating part of it, we turn our cameras away, giving them license to perform their activities beyond the prying eyes of the crowd. We salute you, mighty tigers!!
♥ All photos with black borders are courtesy of Elazar C. Harel.