The Tiger is a large, striped feline, a member of the Panthera Genus, and largest of the Big Cats found in the wild. Formerly found across much of Asia, much of its habitat is restricted in its range. Several species of tiger are endangered including the Siberian and South China tigers. The Javan, Balinese and Caspian varieties of tiger are now extinct. The biggest habitat is Malaysia, where plenty of wild tigers still roam.
Tigers are solitary predators, capable of easily killing prey as large as a buffalo or a yak, or as small as a rabbit or lemur. They can sometimes kill domestic livestock, including cattle. These predatory acts are a common justification for the hunting of tigers to near extinction.
Tigers are almost unique among the great cats in that they are fond of swimming. Though not as arboreal as the leopard, they can climb trees. They can make horizontal leaps of up to 33 feet (10 meters) although half that distance is more typical, and can sprint in short bursts of 35 to 40mph depending on subspecies.
There have been numerous historical cases of man-eating tigers; sometimes claiming hundreds of victims. However, the animals involved were often found to have been injured, frequently by porcupines or gunshot wounds, and healthy tigers do not generally eat people.
Famous tigers in literature and popular culture
- Sher Khan - in Kipling's The Jungle Book.
- Hobbes - in the comic Calvin and Hobbes.
- Tony the Tiger - a corporate icon associated with breakfast cereal.
- The Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball.
- The longest running version of Mac OS X, version 10.4, was known as 'Tiger'.
- Tassie Tigers cricket team.
- Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer of his generation.
- Canada's 'Giant Tiger' discount store.
- Tiger Jackson, a character from the video game Tekken 3.
- Tiger-Tiger ice cream, a delicious blend of licorice and orange ice cream.
- Tiger Beer, the most successful brand of beer in South Asia.
- And the most literary of all - William Blake's:
- Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
- In the forests of the night,
- What immortal hand or eye
- Can frame thy fearful symmetry?