Me and Chairman Mao
1.17.2005
  Tyger, tyger.
Guess what? There's more to Harbin than just massive, insanely detailed snow sculptures and gigantic ice and neon buildings (yes, you read that right), although really, you would think that would be enough, wouldn't you? I mean, if we'd built both a thirty-foot-high dragon made out of snow AND a fifteen-story tower made out of ice that had been frozen around a couple miles worth of red, green, and yellow neon tubing in the town I grew up in, we'd probably just call it good and go to a bar for a few beers or something. But not the hard-working people of Harbin, apparently. (Maybe that's why the Chinese economy is growing so fast? Too much hard work! The gall.) Anyway, it turns out that, in addition to the aforementioned snow and ice attractions, there's also a huge tiger park in Harbin, which we managed to squeeze in on Sunday morning before heading to the airport. And boy, was it interesting, as the delightful story below will show. Enjoy, and don't judge me until you read what I have to say at the end ...

UPDATE: If you want to read a story I wrote about this experience, you can find it here.

A Visit to Tiger Town

Hey kids, welcome to Tiger Town!


There were lots of tigers in Tiger Town. Some were sleepy and just wanted to sit around ...


Some weren't so sleepy and crawled all over, up, and around!


And some wanted to get really close to us. How friendly!


While walking through Tiger Town, we stumbled upon a nice man with a cage full of chickens ...


He told us that the chickens were for sale for only forty yuan--less than five dollars!--so we bought one. Can you guess what happened to our chicken once we bought it?


Yes--the chicken got to go play with the tigers! See how excited the tigers are? They all want the chicken to be their very best special friend ...


The tiger on the right especially wants the chicken for his very best special friend. "Get away!" he says to the other tiger, then smacks him in the face for good measure. He must really love that chicken!


The face-smacking, chicken-loving tiger jumps up to say hello to his new very best special friend.


The tigers all try to make the chicken their very best special friend!


In the end, the face-smacking tiger who really wanted the chicken to be his friend got his wish and they ran off to spend some quality time together.


The two new very best special friends cuddle. Don't they look like they are having fun?


When the other tigers try to come and play with the chicken, the happy tiger says, "Stay away! This chicken is my very best special friend, not yours!" He is a very selfish tiger!


The selfish tiger and our chicken: very best special friends forever.


The End

The 411. Okay, so it was a little strange, paying to have a chicken become tiger feed, and I admit that as the selfish tiger sprinted away with our still-squawking chicken in its mouth, I did feel bad for the chicken. And actually, the chicken didn't seem too happy about being dangled over the tigers either, now that I think about it. Go figure. But my point is that the chickens were all going to end up as tiger food eventually--it's a tiger park, not a chicken roost--so it wasn't all that twisted and slash or evil. The money just accelerated the process, that's all.

What was twisted and evil, however, was that it didn't stop at chickens. Oh no. The chickens were just the cheapest. For a little more, you could see, say, a pheasant torn to shreds by a large jungle cat. And for more still--600 yuan (70 bucks or so)--you could turn the littlest Billy Goat Gruff into a mid-afternoon snack for your viewing pleasure.

But wait … there's more.

If you were really willing to dig deep, for 1,500 yuan (180 dollars) you could buy a calf--yes, a baby cow--and watch it be slaughtered by a pack of ravenous, caged tigers. Seriously. On the plane back to Beijing, we talked to someone who knew someone who had been there when someone did, in fact, spring for said calf. Apparently, no on really enjoyed watching it. No kidding. Sometimes you just have to sigh and say, "Ah, China …"

PS: Don't forget about my story!

***
Tygers obviously don't make good pets but if your looking for pet supplies for your pet, there are places you can get free pet supplies and pet advice for different things.
 
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