“Tyger! Tyger! burning bright”

“. . . strange things happen in the presence of a tiger.”  —from The Tiger by John Vaillant

A sonic roar resonated through the Siberian forest clearing—and Yuri Trush’s body. Seconds later, a tiger flew through the air at Trush. He faced the gaping jaws and extended claws of a desperate wild cat.

John Vaillant described this dramatic scene in The Tiger.

I won’t give away too many details, because it is a book worth reading, but the attack he described occurred in December 1997. Seven years later, in 2004, Yuri Trush visited a wildlife rehabilitation centre. A Siberian tiger named Liuty lived there, and had since being rescued as a cub. He was a well-socialized animal who allowed the centre staff to scratch his neck.

Before Trush’s visit, the tiger lounged in his pen, relaxed. The moment he caught sight of Trush, though, he tensed, growled, ran at the fence directly in front of Trush and leapt at it with such force that it bowed outwardly.

Scientists can’t explain this yet.

Why would a well-socialized tiger attack someone seven years after a close, personal brush with another tiger? Native people in Siberia believe that Trush was marked by the tiger. “Some of them won’t allow me to sleep with them under the same roof,” he told Vaillant.

Mysticism and tigers go hand in hand, it seems.

Vaillant’s telling of the December 1997 tracking of a Siberian tiger involves eerie coincidences and irrational human behaviour. And Trush continues to contemplate the mystical properties of tigers: “It can be compared to a snake looking at a rabbit and hypnotizing him; it has some inexplicable influence on objects and humans and, in his presence, magical phenomena can occur.”

It’s one of those mystical mysteries that keeps me searching for the something more.

Siberian Tiger Français : Tigre de sibérie Ita...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

“Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
n the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

—William Blake

2 thoughts on ““Tyger! Tyger! burning bright”

  1. wordsurfer

    Wow, that is so interesting. I’d never heard of that! I can understand fascination with any of the great cats, but I wonder why tigers should be more mystical or mysterious than lions or any of the others. Or maybe they are? Would be interesting to compare the different legends attached to different cats in their respective cultures…

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      You’re right it would. I found interesting that Yuri Trush compared the tiger to a snake hypnotizing a rabbit. So apparently other animals do it too. Maybe we humans do it more than we realize? Sometimes it’s easier to accept this kind of thing in animals than in humans.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.