Is it a bird? No. Is it a plane? No. It’s a giant Siberian tiger swimming in the Ussuri River. Not a sight Zhang Mingyu, a humble fisherman of Fuyuan, expected to see on a standard Wednesday morning. Last week Zhang had to show stealth and bravery when the beast attempted to board the fishing boat. Who knew tigers like Richard Parker actually existed, eh?
Reliving what is being described as “his own Life of Pi moment” (but without all the self-revelation), Xinhua reported that Zhang and a fellow fisherman caught sight of the feisty feline swimming in the river as they were taking goods to the Sanjiang National Nature Reserve.
“At first I thought it was just a red deer or a roe deer. But it turned out to be a Siberian tiger,” Zhang, age 32, said. “When we approached, the tiger suddenly turned its head and let out a loud roar, with its front paws clutching at our boat. I was so scared that I rushed from the bow to the stern.”
According to SCMP, the fearless fisherman used a rod to gently “prod the tiger back into the water”. Ethics aside, the Richard Parker impressionist had to be “prodded” away several times before taking no for an answer and finally swimming to a near by river bank instead.
The video below was recorded by Zhang after he managed to shake the tiger, you can see him swimming ashore and the footprints he left in the sand. Definitely not your average moggy.
The video was sent to the Northeast Forestry University’s International Feline Research Centre where the footprints were examined and Mr Parker was formally identified as a “healthy wild Siberian tiger”.
Reportedly, the footprints and excretions of other Siberian tigers have recently been seen around the Sanjiang National Nature Reserve which is located “in the triangle area of the confluence reaches of the Heilongjiang River and the Ussuri River”.
This reserve is one of the world’s only three black-soil marshes, which apparently is pretty favourable with our furry friend. According to Wu Zhifu, section chief of Sanjiang National Nature Reserve’s publicity and education department, “the reserve’s natural environment is very good and there is plenty of food for tigers here… [so] the Sanjiang National Nature Reserve has become a ‘paradise’ for Siberian tigers”.
Maybe Zhang ad Co will be seeing a lot more of Richard Parker on future trips.
By Sophie Regan