Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Memories of Tarzan: placid, but still a predator

Posted: 22 January 2010. Updated: 22 January 2010


Of all our big cats, Tarzan is the most relaxed and comfortable with humans.

During the journey to South Africa earlier this year, he would peer out of his crate, nuzzle up to the front, and even roll on his back with all paws in the air as if wanting his tummy tickled.

Sarah and Caesar, by contrast, were ready to eat their rescuers!

Most warm days will see Tarzan lying in his pool to cool down, or sheltering beneath one of the trees in his enclosure. However, if he hears a person or a vehicle approaching, he is usually quickly on his feet and over to the fence to investigate; he approaches the fence, purring, and clearly interested. Eventually he will settle down to sit and watch, before collapsing and rolling onto his back - his huge paws waving in the air.

Whilst with the circus he lost his upper right canine tooth - we don’t know how. This rather crumples his lip on that side, giving him a certain roguish air and charm. All this combines to make Tarzan really seem the great big pussycat! But don’t be mistaken......

When it comes to feeding time, the wild vultures swoop down on the big cat enclosures to see what they claim. At first, they form lines at a safe distance, weighing up the situation, but the sight of the meat the cats are feasting on emboldens them. Not content to wait and scavenge the remnants, the more foolhardy birds move closer and closer, eventually nipping in to try and snatch food from right under the cats’ noses. A few weeks ago, one of the vultures was taking such liberties, and Tarzan decided that enough was enough - with a swift swipe of his huge paw with its razor-sharp talons, he added a vulture to his dinner.

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