So it turns out that apparently one in 10 guys on dating app Tinder in the US have a profile picture with a tiger. Apparently this makes them look more like a man and more attractive to the opposite sex.
It's true that as animals go, tigers and lions are pretty darn macho - the kings of their world, the top of the food chain, built for power. The thing is that, unfortunately, the ones in the Tinder photos don't have the chance to exercise that prowess and through no fault of their own (due to physical and mental cruelty endured from a young age on them on a daily basis), have become somewhat un-macho. But, if it's the brave face of danger that the eligible Tinder users are looking to portray then they may just be half way there.
Although it's likely the tiger will be young, trained through negative conditioning and fear based domination techniques, and depending on its age, often chained up (all day long), there is very definitely the element of risk.
In the last few years there have been numerous cases of attacks from big cats on the public and their keepers and trainers. But not wild ones on the sweeping plains of Africa or Asia, instead in places such as the UK, the US, Europe and cities worldwide.
Here's just some examples from last year - in May a tiger keeper was tragically killed at a wild animal park in Cumbria, a trainer attacked by a circus tiger in Spain, the same in Mexico, a man killed whilst feeding tigers in Italy at a zoo which was closed at the time, a British student mauled at the infamous Tiger Temple in Thailand - the list goes on - each and every year.
What's more, research conducted by wildlife charity Care for the Wild last year suggests that most insurers will not cover maulings like this, so if you do get in trouble you're on your own. They work on the basis that those posing with a 120kg juvenile tiger kind of knew somewhere deep inside that it wasn't really a super safe thing to do.
That's why Care for the Wild are very pleased that in New York State they are close to banning close contact with wild animals, and why we're fully supportive of the government petition in the US to prohibit public contact with captive big cats (and other dangerous animals). It's also why we continually try to inform people about these cruel and dangerous tourist traps that mask themselves as conservation - or shoud we say, CON-servation...
So, as July 29th marks Global Tiger Day, I think it's worth pointing out that if you want to look like a real man in your dating photos and selfies, resist the temptation to fund animal exploitation and stay safe. A few seconds of fun for you supports a lifetime of misery for the animals. Plus, shallow as it is, being torn apart by an angry tiger is never going to make you high up on the Tinder match list.