Captive Beauty: Tiger


Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forest of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake 1757–1827

In our series of animal portraits where we feature animals that live in captivity we would like to present this image of a captive tiger in an unusual setting. Not that this setting would be unusual if it was actually located in India, but this location is part of the Animal World exhibit in Disney World, Orlando.

Sometime ago while on a family outing with our granddaughter and her parents we spent a small lifetime exploring Disney World. While some of us in the party had an agenda where she, the granddaughter and driving force that was the inspiration of the trip, would meet every single Disney personality in the park, from the world’s largest chipmunks, to Captain Hook, and of course the world’s most favorite Princess, others of us would occasionally get lost and find ourselves in the Animal Kingdom and being photographers our main goal was to photograph each and every animal there.

My son, a photographer and Photography Competition judge, spotted the tigers first and that was the end of further exploration for us that afternoon. We were stuck, trapped, unable to leave before we had taken every possible photograph that could be made of these tigers. The tigers seemingly aware that they had an appreciative audience did everything they could to accommodate us. The fact that they were in this incredible enclosure only made our picture-taking better.

The one downside was that to prevent the tigers, who occasionally have a penchant for eating tourists and that would include any photographers in the area, had tiger proof, 1½ inch Plexiglas windows between them and us. Plexiglas is not a pure, perfect, glass-like material. It is easily scratched, stained with mouth-prints from wide-eyed children and some adults, and although cleaned sometimes on the outside, not so much on the inside. Tigers will eat window washers too. So getting clear sharp images is a challenge. However, digital photography being what it is today, we both managed to come away with some keepers as you can see by today’s image above.

These tigers, while captive and unable to return to the wild, are incredible examples of Captive Beauty. If by being on display and creating a love for animals and particularly these beautiful tigers, then they have performed a service to all tigers, both captive and wild.