- The tiger was born in a Mysore jungle. Early days.
- Protected by the parents for months. Then the beat. Death of mother and escape of father.
- Terror in being brought to zoo. Desire for jungles.
- The comfort and safety of this life can never make up for the loss of freedom.
I was born in a cave, formed by an overhanging rock, in a jungle not far from Mysore, towards the foothills of the Nilgiris. There was another brother and a sister, and my first recollections are of how the three of us would roll and play together over the flanks of my striped and powerful mother. Sometimes that Lord of the jungle, my father, came to see us, bringing part of a bullock or a sambur which he had killed. We had killed. We loved to see him, and we enjoyed the strong meat, but my mother was always a little suspicious of his visits, and did not like him to come too near us. I wonder why?
What happy days when we used to bask in the sun in the mouth of the cave! Then we were allowed to make little journeys in the company of mother, but she did not leave us, and soon led us back to the cave. We had all grown to the size of a big dog, and I weighed about thirty pounds. At this stage, we lived entirely on flesh. I wonder how many cows and sambur we ate between us![the_ad id=”17141″]
One day father brought in a bullock that he had found tied with a rope. Little did he realize the trap that had been set for us! Within a few hours, a terrible noise of shouting and beating of drums commenced. Lines of men seemed to be coming right over us. We were all together, and father tried to lead us away from the line of beaters. But as we stole quietly through the bushes, there was suddenly a sharp crack from the branches of a neighboring tree, and then another. I heard something hit my mother’s body, and she rolled over with blood staining her fur. Something hit father, too, but he recovered and dashed away. We tried to awaken mother, but she seemed to have, fallen asleep. Presently men came with nets, which were thrown over us three youngsters, and we were carried away as prisoners. I saw mother, too, being carried on a long pole, held on the shoulders of men. That was the last I ever saw of her.
The brought us to this place. I have learned since that it is called the Zoo of Mysore. There are other tigers here, and there is plenty of room to walk about. Every day, large pieces of meat are brought to us by a man who is our keeper. But it is poor stuff compared with the food which father used to kill for us in the jungles of Mudumalli.
They have given me the name of Rajah, and I am now full grown. Many visitors come and admire me, and some of them take photographs of me. When I roar, how they start back in fear, even though iron bars are between! It is a lazy and idle life, in which I walk about a little and then dream the time away. At night I become rescless when I feel the jungle smells come down on the wind. If the keeper would only leave the door unlocked one day, I think I could soon find my way back to the free jungle where I was born. I shall wait patiently.