Tigers in Chicago

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The tragedy this week at the San Francisco zoo (with a tiger escaping to kill one visiter and maul two others) brings to mind a story I heard from Bible translators Joel and Nancy Stolte. In the 1960’s, the Stoltes began to study the Waimaha language of the Vaupes jungle, near the border between Colombia and Brazil. I visited their location in 1988, and listened to one wonderful story after another for much of the night. As I remember it, one day their pre-school aged son Johnny wandered off into the jungle. Joel, Nancy, and their Waimaha friends spent about three hours looking for him. In order to stress upon him the importance of not wandering off again, they warned him that there were tigers in the jungle that would eat little boys.

The subject was forgotten until the family took a trip back to the States. Then, as they were about to get off the airplane, Johnny asked, “Mommy are there any tigers in Chicago?”
She assured him that it was safe: There were no tigers here.
A few days later, they made a trip to visit someone who was hospitalized. As they approached the building, an ambulance rushed in with an emergency. Johnny was spellbound, and as the patient was pulled from the vehicle, Johnny broke away from his parents and ran to ask, “What happened to you?”
“Tiger got me,” responded the poor, mauled animal trainer.
“You lied to me, Mommy,” said Johnny as he came running back, “there are tigers in Chicago.”

Posted by Brian at 7:56 PM  


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