There are, of course, wild tigers and leopards in India (though far fewer than one would like); there’s a small pocket of lions, and there are no cheetahs. I’ve always been amazed by maps showing past distributions of cheetahs extending into nearly all of India, since one never comes across cheetahs in Indian stories.
There’s a new book out, reviewed in Science a few weeks ago, that argues that lions and cheetahs are not indigenous, but rather were “brought into the country from Persia and Africa by royalty, either as tributes or to populate their hunting parks and menageries.” (Exotic Aliens: The Lion and the Cheetah in India, by Romila Thapar and Valmik Thapar; http://www.amazon.com/Exotic-Aliens-Lion-Cheetah-India/dp/9382277552)
It sounds fascinating, and perhaps I’ll run across the book at the library.
I was reminded of this this morning, when the newspaper had a neat article on a family in Brazil that keeps tigers in its house, which the authorities are not happy about. It included this great photo:
(More photos are at http://photos.mercurynews.com/2013/09/27/tiger-family-brazil-ary-borges/#1) Perhaps this will seed a future South American tiger population…
Being fond of tigers, I suggested we do the same at our house. S. (age 4) pointed out very sharply, “That is not safe.” My counter-arguments were unconvincing. I brought out my backup plan: a pet cheetah. (Cheetahs have been tamed for millennia). This, so far, is also being met with resistance.
Coincidentally, Julie and S. were reading this today:
There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside —
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
(from the excellent “National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry“) It does not help my case.