We got there, and the tiger was pretty friendly. It chuffed hello and came up to be pet -- he kept it on a really long chain inside a warehouse, in the evenings, and during the day it had an outdoor enclosure, but I mean, it was obviously a well-taken care of, well-loved animal -- and I let it lick my hand, and scratched behind its ears, and it was pretty much nirvana for me, because OMG PETTING A TIGER!!!!! It rubbed its head against me, and then, before I could even blink, wrapped its jaws around my thigh.
Thankfully, I'm an idiot, and don't have even the sense God gave little green apples, because I have absolutely 0 fear of being eaten by a tiger, and so, instead of flinching, I just stood there like "oh, no big," and the tiger let me go, and I proceeded to keep petting it because I am really that dumb. Or maybe that smart, because if you flinch in front of a predator like that, it is pretty much a signal that you're prey and its time for them to give chase. But anyway. This is how I became covered in tiger saliva (and got it all over my coat) and pretty much immediately after I happened to touch my face, and my eyes started itching and my nose started running and thus, I learned, I am pretty Intensely allergic to tigers.
I remember getting home, just on cloud nine, and thinking "I could die happy tomorrow."
But did you know there are only an estimated 2000 Bengal tigers left in the wild? And only 3200 wild tigers of all subspecies, total? Did you also know that if a population drops below 1000 individuals, the necessary genetic diversity to maintain a healthy population (to breed them back, for instance, if such programs existed for the reintroduction of tigers into the wild) is lost forever?
For tigers, it's now or never.
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