Majestic poise, like nothing else on Earth.
Recently, one of my colleagues wrote a rather amusing article on this blog declaring lions to be superior to tigers. Oh, how we laughed. It's only natural that the human race (being composed of 90% simpletons) should admire the lion; its preposterous mane, that silly bobble on the end of its tail, its hilarious title, "King of the Jungle" (even though lions don't live in the jungle), and its overuse on royal seals and company logos. In actuality, lions are dowdy, lazy creatures who spend most of their time lying in fields with their friends, while tigers roam the actual
jungle, the actual, actual
jungle, looking for things to mess up and eat. So why is the lion considered the king, you ask? Let's take a look at a famous poem from 1603 about an alleged battle for the British crown between a lion and a unicorn:
The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn
All around the town.
Errr, this just in: Unicorns don't exist! They're imaginary creatures! So right off the bat here you know what you can do with your crown and where you can stick it, Lion Wussies.
The reason the lion seems powerful and regal is that European royal families (who are actually lizards, strangely enough
), adopted them as heralds on coats of arms. Long before this the Romans had already made a decent go of feeding Christians to them in their gory amphitheatres. Afro-Carribean cultures also used the lion as a symbol of kingliness and strength, because they, too, were folded into the cultural melee of the West. Tigers, on the other hand, have quietly enjoyed several millennia of reverence and worship in Asia. If we're judging this democratically the tiger triumphs once again, as Asia is by far the most populous continent. In a sense, the lion is like Justin Bieber; admired within his own cultural range by those unworldly enough to think he's all there is. The tiger is more like Animal Collective
; psychedelic, sumptuous, mysterious and omniscient. I will now present nine reasons why the king of the jungle ain't no king and doesn't Live in the jungle, and why the tiger is the supreme ruler of the entire cat family.
1. The Saber Tooth Tiger:
Take a look in the mirror, take a look at your hands. Remind you of anything? Yep, that's right, a monkey. An ape. Ever wondered why we lived in the trees for so long during our early evolution, when we could have chilled out in the meadows? The reason is saber tooth tigers were waiting down there for us. Those mighty beasts forced us to remain in a static state of development, terrifying us with their enormous fangs. Of course, there are those who'll say saber tooths weren't actual tigers as real tigers actually belong to the cat subfamily Pantherinae
, whereas saber tooths belonged to subfamily Machairodontinae
, but they can go to hell in a catbasket. And where were the lions during this epoch of terror? Oh, heheh, they were, err, NOWHERE. "Real" tigers have been around for two million years, while the Johnny-cum-lately lion has only been around half that time. Half! Oh god, somebody stop me!
Bruce? What have you been doing, lad?!?
2. The Tiger Kung Fu Style:
Without doubt the fastest and most lethal Kung style there is, the Tiger seeks to destroy an opponent ASAP using extreme violence, including the Tiger Claw Strike, designed to rip out an adversery's eyes, and the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, which is a way to snap a foe's arm. Bruce Lee was known to use the Tiger style, and anyone who ever saw him in action can attest to the way he would leap to attack, rapidly stunning his prey and in many cases "killing" them almost instantly. Is there also a Kung Fu style known as the Lion? Hmmm, last time I checked, martial arts didn't entail lying around in the sun all day, thinking about how awesome you were with your dozing friends, while the women did all the work.
3. Majestic Symbol of Asia:
Asia is the largest and most populous continent on the planet, with almost four billion tiger lovers. Its peoples are extremely diverse, as are its landscapes. Historically, the tiger's inhabited all of them, from the tropical jungles of India to the frozen wastes of Siberia. A slightly larger range than that little field known as the African Savannah, wouldn't you agree? The Chinese, Japanese, Indians and Bangladeshis all deeply respect the tiger for its might and beauty, as do Thais, Malaysians and Russians. This magnificent and largest of all cats symbolizes its native continent, with its size, finesse, patience and power. It isn't depicted wearing a fictional crown, to represent royalty. It just is. Silent, stealthy and solitary, wearing its stripes proudly across thousands of miles, where its only enemy is humankind. Nothing, and nobody, messes with this Herculean feline.
Tigers: Awesome, adaptable and wildly diverse.
4. A Tiger's Only Natural Enemy is Humankind:
The arch-enemy of the lion is a filthy, cowardly little dog called a hyena. Hyenas are notorious for preying on the young of other animals, and for hunting in packs like cowards (and lions). In fact, hyenas are such scavengers that their jaws are able to crush bone, as much of what they eat is carrion. This, my friends, is the main rival of the lion. This is the level the so-called "king of beasts" is playing at. Meanwhile, across its gigantic range, the tiger roams alone, fending for itself, as independent and effective a killing machine as any you'll ever see. The tiger isn't morphologically chauvinistic, like the lion with its poser's mane; male and female tigers are identical in appearance, and either gender can do a number on any other land mammal in Asia. Apart from an armed human being. A slightly more formidable adversary than a dog.
"It's not fair! I wanna tiger!!!".
5. Scarface Wanted One as a Pet:
The 1983 iconic movie Scarface
, starring Al Pacino as coke-crazed Cuban gangster Tony Montana, garnered a global following. With its gory scenes of chainsaw killings, mountains of white powder and the famous line, "Say hello to my little friend", as Montana weilds his M16's grenade launcher, Scarface
had it all. Almost; the one thing the Miami drug lord didn't have was a pet tiger, and that was really all Tony ever wanted. He said so in the movie. Not a lion. A tiger. Poor Tony. Instead, he was killed in a bloodbath at the conclusion of the movie. If he'd had his trusty tiger by his side, I think we all know that it would have been a very different outcome.
These boys ruled the skies, not the jungles, of Asia.
6. Everyone and Everything Wants to be a Tiger:
From the depths of the oceans to motorcycle manufacturers, to secret United States military entities, everyone wants to emulate the prowess and agility of this massive cat. The so-called "Flying Tigers" were a top secret US Airforce squadron whose members went on to found the notorious Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. The Sunbeam Tiger was the last automobile to compete both as a land speed record holder and a circuit racer - and indeed the expression "Put a tiger in your tank" has been used commerically by Esso to describe powerful gasoline, and it was common for motorists to buy a fake tiger tail and drive around with it flapping from their gas caps! Visionary poet William Blake's famous "Tyger Tyger" is referenced as one of the greatest ever. Then there are the myriad animals and plants named for their beauty and resemblance to the biggest of the big cats: Tiger shark, salamander, pipefish, the Tasmanian tiger, shrimp, stingray, tiger lily, and even "tiger wings", served at restaurants, famous for their spicy kick. I could go on all day about sports teams such as the Clemson Tigers
, LSU Tigers
and Missouri Tigers
, but I almost feel sorry for lions at this point. Almost. Then there's the feared Tamil Tigers, a separatist militant organization based in northern Sri Lanka, responsible for many grisly deaths.
What do lions have? "Sea lions"! Idiotic rubbery creatures that waddle around balancing balls on their noses.
Would you buy a used car from this man? I think you would.
7. Dennis Avner, the Tiger-Faced Man: Dennis Avner, sometimes known by his native american name, "Stalking Cat"
, has voluntarily undergone extensive surgery to resemble his totem animal, the tiger. Avner loves tigers so much he's had his entire face tattooed, implants in his face that appear as "whiskers", subdermal modifications that alter the shape of the face and has even filed his teeth into tiger fangs. The former naval technician could not have any of these surgeries performed by a medical professional as it is illegal for surgeons to change a person's appearance beyond what is deemd "normal". Instead, he had all this done without anaesthetic, including the splitting of his top lip, so that it resembles a cat's. I guess people just love tigers a lot more than lions.
Riding the tiger, literally.
8. Religion & Astrology:
Asia is choc full o' religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Islam plus many more. These religions often overlap into mystic realms, where superhuman gods indulge in all manner of activity. Asian religions are vastly more advanced than those of Europe, Africa and the Americas (the lion-worshipping cultures), as, like the tiger itself, they extend back into the mists of time. Hinduism originated thousands of years before Christianity (and the pompously-titled "Lion of Judah
"), in the Indus Valley, and is the oldest of all organized religions. As such, its deities are the oldest, too, and which animal d'you think those deities favored? What impossibly sculpted monster did they like to ride about on? If I even need to answer this question for you, please go away and fart yourself to death.
9. Those Famous Stripes:
A tiger's stripes are one of its most recognizable features. They are there because the tiger is the true King of the Jungle. What do I mean by that? Well...the lion's coat is a shoddy uniform brown color, reflecting the fact he lives with his little friends in a little field that's brown and dead most of the time. The tiger, on the other hand, lives in a vibrant, lush JUNGLE, and needs to be camouflaged. The camouflage helps the cat remain invisible, not because it needs to avoid predators (it has none), but because it relies on stealth to catch its food. Living IN A JUNGLE as it does, the tiger cannot simply chase an antelope across a dirty field, with all its mates helping, it must slowly creep through the THICK UNDERGROWTH to within striking distance of its prey. It's time for people to wake up and smell the tigers. And for the TRUTH to come out about the real
"King of the Jungle".
Lion Truthers Unite!