Photography . . . Travel . . .

Monday, May 28, 2012

I Think These Cats Can Tell Time (Or: One Not Very Happy Tiger)

I went back to the San Diego Zoo on Saturday morning for a couple of hours. My original plan was to get there early and watch the Amur Leopards chase each other around. That didn't happen - I didn't arrive until 10:45 or so, and by then the place was jammed. I got to the Malayan Tigers at about 11:00, and just stood off to the side and waited. The cubs were resting in the sun, just sort of watching the people go by.

A little story is in order here. Ever since these guys came out on exhibit around July of last year, there has been a "keeper talk" session almost every day, and almost always at about 11:30. During these sessions a keeper would toss treats (usually chunks of cut up beef heart) to the cubs and their mother, Mek. The keeper talk served multiple purposes - it provided "enrichment" for the tigers, it got them out where people could see them, and it gave the keepers a chance to talk about tiger habitat conservation. If you've been following this blog for the last year or so you've seen lots of pictures of Mek and the cubs during the keeper talks. I think I even remarked in an earlier blog post about how good Mek was at knowing when it was time to head down the hill for the keeper.

Well, a little over a week ago they stopped doing the keeper talks. I think someone forgot to tell Mek.

At 11:25 she came trotting down from the top of the hill, fully expecting someone to toss some chunks of fresh beef heart in her direction . . . . 

. . . . She stopped for a bit at a spot about halfway down . . . .

. . . . And then she continued on down to the edge of the cliff where she used to get her treats. Her cubs joined her - all three waiting, not very patiently at all. It didn't take long for her to figure out that something wasn't right - and you could see (and hear) that she was not happy at all about the change in plans.

Click here to see more pictures of the Malayan Tigers at the San Diego Zoo on Saturday, May 26, 2012, including several of the 2 cubs playing together.

To see a completely different view of Mek, scroll down the page to the last shot in the Happy Mother's Day post. It's hard to believe that is the same animal. Or, maybe it's not so hard to believe - and I think this shot above is likely the more natural reaction you would get if you ran across her in the wild. 


  1. Wow! He is expressing his displeasure with that snarl. Great catch Frank.

  2. Mek and I feel the same about missing a scheduled feeding.


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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.