MamaBlogger365 – I Was Surrounded by Tigers and I Liked It by Loren Christie

I’m beginning to consider myself the Crocodile Hunter of the local weekly newspapers. Last week I covered a pet parade where I got a chance to photograph two Basset Hounds dressed for a tea party and a snake who won a prize for the length of his tongue.

I’d prefer a local opportunity to interview Derek Jeter, but I’ll settle for a meeting with a chinchilla dressed like him any day rather than cover another school board meeting. Although it’s been fun meeting artists, musicians, authors and public figures, for me, scoring five tickets to the circus has been the highlight of my year. It happened this past week. All I had to do was stand in the middle of 16 tigers — which was totally worth it in exchange for witnessing the reaction of my three kids to the news that they were going to the circus for the first time ever.

I got up early for the assignment and drove to a local mall where the Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars crew was busy raising the Big Top in preparation for a week of performances. Seeing the massive red and gold tent go up was really thrilling. Getting close to the tigers was even more fun than interviewing the ringmaster. (I think he’d agree since he loves tigers too.)

I’ve always been fascinated by tigers; I even had a poster of one in my room as a child and a toy stuffed tiger during my Jane Goodall phase. I know she studied chimps, but back then, I was planning on growing up to be the next all-about-tigers version of her. The Cole Bros. just recently put African Royal Bengals back into the show — white and golden beauties. Of course I’ve been to the zoo, but I’ve never been that close to so many of them. They looked cute and even cuddly, like sleepy massive house cats lounging in their cages, but when the whole group of them heard a noise and stood up in unison I couldn’t help but hold my breath, suddenly feeling like an antelope circled during a hunt. Since they were stuck behind bars, instead of bolting, I stood there grinning and mumbling “Na-na-na-na-na! You can’t reach me,” under my breath. The elephants in the tent nearby obviously thought I was insane as they swung their trunks with mouths agape in a perpetual expression of drunken amusement. I’ll be wearing a disguise during the show just in case the Royal Bengals spot me up front in those reserved seats I got.

That’s right; when I arrived home I waved the excellent tickets in the air and announced the news: the entire family was going to see a real, live, old-fashioned circus in a Big Top. My oldest boy, who is 8, bounced and shouted like Ocho Cinco doing a touchdown dance in the end zone. His six-year-old sister screamed and jumped like she does when that darn ice cream truck comes down the block at her bedtime. My youngest boy, who is four, took off shrieking and hitting the den walls like an untied balloon; In short, they were jubilant and I’d stand in the middle of those tigers again to bring home such happiness, even if they were cage-less, (provided that I could sit on the shoulders of the trainer with a machine gun in my hands, just in case). Sorry Royal Bengals, I still love you.

Bio: Loren Christie is a mom and journalist for three local weekly newspapers in NY. Check out her book, I Hope God is Laughing: Confessions of an Imperfect Parent on A portion of the proceeds goes to The Life Center of Long Island, a non-profit organization that supports mothers in crisis and their children.

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