A few years ago, I wanted to brush up on my photography skills. The course I was doing for it was confusing me and I needed all the help I could get. So naturally, I asked a friend and she took me to the Edmonton Valley Zoo. She specializes in wildlife photography so I knew animals had to be involved and I was certain that I would learn loads.
When we got to the zoo, we walked slowly taking pictures where we could. She showed me how to set up my ISO and why it’s so important, and explained what aperture was and why it was better to keep that on automatic. I was feeling pretty good about my newfound skills that day, until we got to the tigers’ play pen. Now, you should know, I love tigers. My friend knew this too and in turn, taught me how to say hello to the tigers. It’s called chuffing (or prusten). You sort of blow air softly out your mouth in a breathy manner — it’s kind of like purring and can’t be easily justified in public. Luckily for us we were the first ones at the zoo in the morning, so we could chuff as much as we liked.
We started to make weird noises to the tiger to get it to come over to our side of the fence. It worked brilliantly. As the tiger came closer we got some amazing shots. And the tiger came right up to the fence. That moment of him looking straight at us was terrifying — it felt like I was being judged and I instinctively held my breath, only breathing when he turned back around. My friend and I looked at each other and made the chuffing sounds again. And… the tiger peed on us. Full-on sprayed us. And the fence was a fence, with holes so the stuff obviously got on our clothes. Yuck. Oh and the smell was pungent. It was gross and awful. Honestly, I didn’t know what we were supposed to do. We kind of shook ourselves a bit, threw some snow on our clothes, and sniffed ourselves. Thank heavens we never did that again.
Starting March 25, the outdoor exhibits at the Edmonton Valley Zoo are officially re-opened on a timed-entry, pre-booked basis – you know, if you wanted to try getting closer to the tiger, too. But remember, we did warn you.