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Monday, July 19, 2010

Animal fights

A friend, Guy Davis, sent this this morning with the note, "One badass leopard":

It is an inspiring story, since crocs usually get the better of leopards, and given that we are instinctively inclined to root for our fellow mammal over a reptile.

This article brings to mind what another friend told me twenty-nine years ago: if you could get a tiger and a polar bear together, people would pay any amount of money to watch that fight.

True enough.

For generations, young boys have asked their fathers who would win in a fight, a lion or a tiger. And their fathers have almost universally answered, "A tiger, son." This answer made perfect sense: after all, tigers weigh up to 900 pounds, and are extremely graceful, whereas lions weigh in at 600 pounds at most, and generally only hunt in packs.

It turns out the answer is not that simple. Evidently the Koreans -- bloodthirsty savages that they are -- used to actually stage fights between lions and Siberian tigers. Surprisingly, at first the lions almost always won these battles to the death. The reason was twofold. First, tigers generally kill by jumping onto the backs of their prey and dispatching them with either a swipe of their powerful paws or a bite to the spine. Lions, on the other hand, will generally go for the jugular, literally: they will clamp their jaws around the throats of their prey and suffocate them to death. So when a tiger attacks from above, it leaves its throat open, leaving it vulnerable to the lion. (As they say in boxing, styles make fights.) Secondly, the Siberian tigers were surprisingly unaggressive, especially compared to lions.

So now we know: the expression "Go get 'em tiger" is in fact misleading. And "the king of the jungle" is, in fact, the king of the jungle.

Eventually the Koreans thought to bring in Bengal tigers for these fights, and the Bengals, a more aggressive breed of cat, proved an equal match for the lions.

It would be harder to figure out whom to root for there than it is in the leopard vs. crocodile matchup. Luckily, these fights are no longer allowed, so we needn't bother.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a smallish crocodile but all the same I agree that's a badass leopard.

John Craig said...

A quote from the article:

"The giant cat raced out of cover provided by scrub and bushes to surprise the crocodile, which was swimming nearby.

A terrible and bloody struggle ensued. Eventually, onlookers were amazed to see the leopard drag the crocodile from the water as the reptile fought back.

With the crocodile snapping its powerful jaws furiously, the two animals somersaulted and grappled. Despite the crocodile's huge weight and strength, the leopard had the upper hand catching its prey by the throat."

The article makes it sound as if the crocodile was larger and stronger; sometimes camera angles are deceiving.