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Tigers in Popular Culture by Laura Jeeves

Tigers in Popular Culture by
Article Posted: 06/24/2016
Article Views: 138
Articles Written: 3842
Word Count: 607
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Tigers in Popular Culture

Travel & Tourism
Tiger holidays to India provide the opportunity to observe one of the most impressive animals in the world roaming free in the jungles, grasslands and mangrove swamps of its natural habitat. One of the most sought-after wildlife experiences available, the best Tiger holidays are headed up by qualified naturalists, whose expertise and local knowledge provides participants with a valuable insight into the big cat and its habitat.

But outside the realm of its subcontinental kingdom, Panthera tigris has secured an iconic status in a very different way, as well.

Appearance in Literature and Film

With its awe-inspiring physical presence and intriguing behaviours, the Tiger has always held a special kind of fascination over humans. The power this beautiful big cat holds over our imaginations is impossible to deny, and it has made many high-profile appearances in popular culture, in both literature and film.

William Blake's The Tyger

"Tyger tyger burning bright, in the forests of the night…" Even to those who've never studied Blake's work, those words, first published in 1794, may sound vaguely familiar. The poet was the first to depict the big cat as a creature of beauty and not just a fierce and uncompromising wild animal. The religious and aesthetic symbolism he bestowed upon its creation – "What immortal hand or eye, dare frame thy fearful symmetry?" – questioned the centuries-old clichés of savagery for the first time.

Life of Pi

Yann Martel's book rose to cult status, with his eloquent and spiritual narrative of Pi, a young Indian boy cast adrift in a small lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a posse of zoo animals, including a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a Bengal Tiger with the unlikely name of Richard Parker. As their predicament becomes more and more precarious, Pi and Richard Parker are forced to learn to trust each other if they are to survive. With interwoven themes of trust, acceptance and survival it is, at its heart, a story of triumph over adversity. Under the poetic touch of acclaimed director Ang Lee, the book made a rare successful transition to film, and its rich cinematography and innovative use of 3D technology saw it emerge as a triumph in its own right.

The Jungle Book

When Rudyard Kipling created The Jungle Book, in 1894 (which started as a collection of short stories), he could have had no idea his tale of a boy raised by wolves in the jungles of India would go on to become an intrinsic part of our literary landscape.

Mowgli's life in the jungle with his wolf-parents Akela and Raksha, and his teachers Bagheera the panther, Kaa the python and Baloo the bear, is punctuated by encounters with their fearsome enemy – Shere Khan, a formidable and ferocious Bengal Tiger.

The story has morphed into modern-day folklore and has appeared in several incarnations on television and the big screen. The latest adaptation, released in 2016, features the voices of Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Idris Elba as the intimidating, velvet-voiced Shere Khan.

While professionally organised Tiger holidays are the only safe and ecologically responsible way of experiencing a real-life encounter with this most revered of wild animals, those who are unable to travel to the Indian jungles can still appreciate the majesty of the Tiger through its many appearances in popular culture.

Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Tigers. Being passionate about her subject, Marissa chooses the expert-led Tiger holidays organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth

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