Theresa’s Field Note on Korean Tigers

Let’s Talk About Tigers!

People and animals alike can be used to represent a culture. What country do you think of when people mention bald eagles? What about pandas? And tigers?

In the Disney movie Aladdin, Princess Jasmine has her own pet tiger! Am I the only one who is a little jealous of her? Aladdin doesn’t take place in Korea, but tigers are thought of very highly here as well. They represent strength and are an important part of many Korean folktales. My Korean university’s mascot is even the tiger!

What does this creature or plant look like?

Have you ever seen a tiger before? My favorite tiger is Tigger, a character from Winnie the Pooh. He is very energetic and is always bouncing around the forest singing. Real tigers can’t bounce on their tails or sing, but they are still fun to learn about!

Tigers are the largest animal in the cat family. They can grow to be up to 11 feet long and weigh 670 pounds! They hunt their own food with their sharp canine teeth. Look at a ruler- a tiger’s tooth can be up to three and a half inches long!

Tigers are easily recognized by their orange fur with black stripes. Each one’s stripes are unique, so tiger lovers can easily see the differences between each of them. They look a lot like a house cat, just much, much bigger!

 How did I feel when I saw it?

Tigers may look like our pet cats, but they are way larger! I would definitely not want to cuddle up with a wild tiger. I have only seen tigers in zoos, so I have never felt endangered by one. If I did happen to come across a wild tiger, I would be very afraid!

The fluffy fur looks so soft, with the stripes giving it its beauty. They remind me of a typical father figure- very strong, but with a soft side. While I have never been able to speak with a tiger and find out about their emotional soft spots, I get the feeling that there is more to their lives than just being tough.

Where does it live?

Tigers like to live in the mountains. When I visited the Baemsa Temple, there was a small building on the top of the mountain behind the temple. The building housed a statue of the mountain god, who is thought to protect the temple and the people there. The mountain god sat with a tiger, which the Korean people believe is strong and majestic, not scary.

Tigers used to live all over Asia, but now live mostly just in India, China, and Russia. Different types of tigers like to live in different conditions, but they all require a place with access to water and many animals to hunt. They like to use their camouflage to sneak up on their prey, so places with lots of grasses and other plants to hide in are best.

How does it use its environment to survive?

Tigers use the animals in their environment as food to survive. They use the landscape to hide and hunt their food. Of course, watering holes are a necessity. Tigers get thirsty too! They are great swimmers and like to cool off in the water when it is hot out. A snack of fish can also be found in the water!

Koreans admire the tiger for its strength and majestic characteristics. Even though tigers don’t live in South Korea anymore, they are still present in the culture of the people. Tigers can often be seen in artwork. There are many pictures and statues of tigers around Korea, even here on my college campus!

What can harm this creature? Are we worried about it?

Years ago, there were lots of tigers who roamed the mountains of the Korean Peninsula. Sadly, tigers no longer live in this area. Despite the Korean peoples’ love for the tiger, it was the people who caused them to disappear. About 100 years ago, Korea began cutting down their forests to make more room for the people to live. Unfortunately, this also meant that there was less room for tigers to live. Also, people began hunting tigers for their fur. These things caused the wild tigers to vanish from Korea. It is important for us people to take care of our natural environment, it can be fragile!

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