October 4, 2008

Life is lonely. Especially if you're a tiger. The other day I read that Lumpur, the lonely tiger of London Zoo, was having a tough time finding love. He keeps getting rejected.

They brought in Sarah, a tigress imported from another zoo, but there was no spark. Not only that, but Lumpur hit out and scratched her. Which is tiger code for: get away from me you snooty tart.

Tigers need chemistry too. Just because Sarah's a tiger and Lumpur's a tiger, that doesn't mean they're going to hit if off. Romance is more than just being the same species. There's got to be something captivating and mesmeric - a physical attraction, at least. If humans require animal magnetism, I bet tigers need it even more.

Animals are intuitive. Maybe Sarah picked up on the fact that she was being used. All of a sudden she's dumped in a paddock with a tiger she's never met before.

"What am I, a breeder?" she's thinking. "I'm worth more than that."

Maybe she picked up on the fact that if she were to breed with Lumpur, he'd be the kind of father who sits in the lair all day and doesn't lift a paw. Or, maybe she thought he was arrogant.

Poor Lumpur. His face is splashed all over the papers with the headline: the loneliest tiger. How do we know he's lonely? Maybe he's enjoying his solitude. He doesn't that look lonely to me. He looks smug.

If I were a tiger I'd be attracted to Lumpur. He's unavailable. Remote. He doesn't want to have to explain himself and he's set in his ways. Naturally, I'd think I could change him.

There was another tigress before Sarah who also rejected him and now that tiger's been shipped off somewhere else. Having "failed" at her task. And Sarah, who is 14 years old - 3 years older than Lumpur (does that make her a cougar?) - is now on her own in an enclosed space next to the lions, one of which is named Lucifer. That's what she gets for being so picky.

I know people believe that zoos are important to save animals from extinction - but why not take the funding and build a protected reserve for them in their natural habitat? Given the choice, I'm sure Lumpur would take Sumatra over Regent's Park. He could breed in privacy - or not at all. It's possible he's not interested in parenting. He's under a lot of pressure.

There's a public appeal to raise money to build a new home for the tigers, since their current paddock is not the most romantic venue. It will allow them to be able to take a break from each other. Which I think is a great idea. It's hard to be demonstrative when there's no privacy. Tigers aren't into public displays of affection. No wonder they're resentful - it's not a peep show.

All over the world, animals are stressed out. In China, they're feeding the pandas chicken soup to relax them. I thought pandas were vegetarian.

The people at the zoo argue Lumpur needs a more expansive environment in order for him to find love. The way it is now, the living conditions are small and cramped, there's not very much space and it's not conducive to amorous behavior. Sounds a lot like my life.