A Tiger in the Zoo

A Tiger in the Zoo

A Tiger in the Zoo Summary

A Tiger in the Zoo Introduction

About the Poet

  • George Leslie Norris (May 21, 1921 – April 6, 2006), was a famous poet and short story writer. He was born in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. He is considered one of the most important Welsh writers of the post-war period.
  • Norris published his first poem in 1938. By 1943, he published his first book of poetry. His first collection of poetry was Finding
  • Gold that was published in 1967. By 1980, Norris published three volumes in the Phoenix Living Poets.
  • The Loud Winder, Sliding, The Girl from Cardigan, Holy Places, etc., are some of his important works.
  • He was bestowed with Cholmondeley Poetry Prize, the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Award, the AML Award for poetry and many more awards. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Welsh Academy.
  • Leslie died on April 6, 2006 in Provo.

Central Idea of the Poem

The poem ‘A Tiger in the Zoo’ deals with the feelings of a tiger inside the cage. He is not free to move freely as he is restricted to its boundaries. The animals, like tiger is meant to roam in the open terrorising the village with his paws and roars. He never harms anyone until provoked. He yearns to get out of the cage while watching the stars at night. The tiger values his freedom like humans do and we should not earn out livelihood at the expense of the freedom of animals.

A Tiger in the Zoo Summary

DO In the poem, ‘A Tiger in the Zoo’, the poet has presented a contrast between a tiger when it is in its natural habitat and when it is imprisoned in a zoo. The poet sees a tiger in a zoo on a starry night. The tiger moves slowly up and down in his cage. He is full of anger. The poet says that the tiger should have been in the jungle. He should have been lurking quietly in the shadows near some water hole, and waiting for a plump deer to pass that way. But he is locked in a concrete cell. He does not take cognizance of the visitors and is looking at the brilliant stars with his brilliant eyes. Now he is content with merely looking at the stars. He is no longer free to move in his natural habitat and look at the brilliant stars from there.

Poem at a Glance

The tiger is not free to roam.
It is confined to a caged habitat in a zoo.
There are dark spots on the skin of a tiger. It is visible from a distance.
The tiger walks quietly with his velvety soft feet.
But in the forest, the tiger terrorises the villagers by opening his white fangs, long teeth and the claws.
But the tiger has no intention of terrorising the villagers.
A lot of visitors come to see him in the zoo but he does not like the stares of the visitors.
He does not take much cognizance of the visitors.
Now, the tiger limits his movements only to the caged habitat.
Late night, he hears the noise of the patrolling cars moving around the zoo.
The tiger looks at the shining stars in the night.
He just watches the shining stars standing in the caged habitat.

English A Tiger in the Zoo Important Questions and Answers

I. Short Answer Type Questions (20-30 words & 2 marks each)

Question 1.
Enlist some of the activities of the tiger, as described in the poem.
Some of the activities of the tiger are – walking along the cage, hearing the patrolling of cars, ignoring visitors and staring at the brilliant stars of the sky.

Question 2.
Why does the tiger express his anger quietly?
The tiger expresses his anger quietly, because he is helpless. He can do nothing from behind the bars. He is no longer independent in the cage the way he was in the forest.

Question 3.
How does the tiger terrify the villagers?
The tiger growls at the villagers who pass through that way. He also shows his white sharp teeth and ferocious claws to the villagers to terrify them.

Question 4.
Why does the tiger not take much interest in the visitors?
The tiger is imprisoned in the cage. He feels uncomfortable and is in a rage. He wants to enjoy freedom. That is why the tiger does not take much interest in the visitors.

Question 5.
Why are the eyes of the tiger said to be brilliant? What is common between the tiger’s eyes and the stars?
The eyes of the tiger shine brightly in the darkness of night. That is why they are said to be brilliant. And it is this brilliance that is common between the tiger’s eyes and the stars.

II. Short Answer Type Questions (40-50 words & 3 marks each)

Question 1.
Is living in the wild safe for tigers these days?
It is ideal for tigers to live in the wild. But looking at today’s jungles where poachers are always on the hunt of innocent animals, frequent forest fires caused by men are on the rise, it is becoming less viable for wildlife to thrive in natural habitat.

Question 2.
How does the tiger hunt in his natural habitat, i.e., jungle?
The ferocious tiger roams freely in his natural habitat. He is wary of catching his prey. He waits for his prey lurking invisibly in the shadow of trees. He slides through the long grass stealthily and unnoticed. He comes to the water hole where he can hunt his favourite prey, i.e., plump deer.

Question 3.
Why should the tiger snarl around houses at the edge of the forest?
The tiger should snarl around houses at the edge of the forest so that the villagers do not disturb the peace of the forest and they do not kill the wild animals to fulfil their selfish motive.

Question 4.
What message does the poet want to convey through the poem, ‘A Tiger in the Zoo’?
All creatures of the earth, i.e., human beings, animals, etc., want freedom. It is quite unwise and cruel to keep the wild animals in the zoo. They feel angry, and irritated there. So, their freedom should not be caged. The tiger should be allowed to live only in forests not in cages.

Question 5.
How does the poet make a contrast between the tiger in the cage with tiger in the forest?
The poet makes a very beautiful contrast between the tiger in the cage with tiger in the forest.
In the cage, the tiger is not free. He is quite angry and irritated. While the tiger in the forest remains free and lives with ease. The tiger walks in the tall grass and hunts the deer that passes by the water hole.

III. Long Answer Type Questions (100-120 words & 5 marks each)

Question 1.
Love for freedom is the natural instinct of every living being. Comment.
It is absolutely true that love for freedom is the natural instinct of every living being. Everyone prefers to live without restrictions and tends to deny any kind of confinement. Likewise, the caged tiger also longed for freedom. He was so fed up that he even ignored the visitors who would always be awestruck looking at him. He took to and fro steps inside the cage as if looking for an opportunity to escape the captivity. God has made all living beings equal and therefore the animals too have the right to freedom. They are not supposed to be caged. It is their right to enjoy their natural habitat in the wild. Hence, humans should not cage them out of sheer selfishness and respect them as well.

Question 2.
Do you agree that wild animals should be caged? Comment with reference to the poem.
Wild animals should not be caged at any cost. This is a well-known fact that tiger is a royal species. They are on the verge of extinction. In ancient times, tigers moved around freely in the forests. But today, they are caged and left in the zoo for the entertainment of people. In fact, they are not meant for confinement only. The result is that their offsprings also do not learn how to hunt, when they are caged. Caging wild animals also leads to disturbance of ecological balance. So, wild animals should be left free. They belong to the forest. Cages are not meant for any wild animal, specially a tiger.

Question 3.
“Captivity is the greatest curse one suffers from. No creature likes to stay behind the bars.” Discuss with reference to the poem, ‘A Tiger in the Zoo’.
Since the evolution of human civilization on the earth, we have been finding that man has tried to exploit others for his own benefit. The weak have been enslaved and made to bow before the master. A bird also does not want to live in a caged nest but wants to live and sing freely under the sky. Leslie Norris, the poet has depicted the irony of the situation for the tiger. A ferocious animal like tiger has to satisfy itself by moving in the closed bars. His strength is behind the bars where instead of terrorising, he himself is being terrorised.

Question 4.
But he’s locked in concrete cell, His strength behind bars, Stalking the length of his cage, Ignoring visitors. On the basis of the given passage, explain how the tiger looks like from the outside of the cage. What does the poet want to convey through this?
The poet, Neslie Norris has given a vivid description of a tiger in the zoo. In the zoo, the tiger can’t lead his natural life. He remains helpless there. He remains locked in a cage, i.e., a concrete cell. His strength is locked behind bars. The tiger moves slowly and quietly along the length of the cage. He walks to and fro in utter helplessness. The tiger also ignores the visitors because he considers them devoid of feelings. Nobody tries to help him come out of the cage. He is under the strict surveillance of the curator. Actually, this is not the natural habitat of the tiger in which he is living. He is really helpless in the cage and draws pity for his condition. Through this, the poet wants to convey that everybody loves freedom whether it is a human being or an animal. Nobody wants to lead the life of bondage and slavery. God has made all living beings free. So their right to freedom must not be snatched at any cost.

English A Tiger in the Zoo Textbook Questions and Answers

Thinking about the Poem

1. Read the poem again and work in pairs or groups to do the following tasks.
(i) Find the words that describe the movements and actions of the tiger in the cage and in the wild. Arrange them in two columns.
(ii) Find the words that describe the two places, and arrange them in two columns.
Now try to share ideas about how the poet uses words and images to contrast the two situations.

(i) Movements and actions of Tiger in the cage Movements, and actions of Tiger in the wild Stalking
Lurking Hearing
Snarling Staring
Baring his white fangs Ignoring
Sliding, Terrorising
A Tiger in the Zoo

Places in the cage Few steps of his cage Concrete cell
, Places in the wild Long grass Water hole Houses at the jungle’s edge
Behind bars

2. Notice the use of a word repeated in lines such as these:
(i) On pads of velvet quiet,
In his quiet rage.
(ii) And stares with his brilliant eyes
At the brilliant stars.
What do you think is the effect of this repetition?
Repetition is a poetic device used by the poet in order to enhance the beauty of the poem.
‘Velvet quiet’ refers to the quiet velvet pads of the tiger’s paws. He can only walk around the limited space in the cage. The use of quiet rage’symbolises the anger and ferocity of the tiger. He wants to run out into the forest and hunt a deer, but his rage is quiet because he is caged and can not come out in the open. The use of ‘quiet’ has brought immense beauty to the poem. Similarly, the use of “brilliant for the tiger’s eyes as well as the stars also bring out the magnificence of these lines.

3. Read the following two poems – one about a tiger and the other about a panther. Then discuss:
Are zoos necessary for the protection or conservation of some species of animals? Are they useful for educating the public? Are there alternatives to zoos?

The Tiger
The tiger behind the bars of his cage growls,
The tiger behind the bars of his cage snarls,
The tiger behind the bars of his cage roars.
Then he thinks.
It would be nice not to be behind bars all
The time
Because they spoil my view
I wish I were wild, not on show.
But if I were wild, hunters might shoot me,
But if I were wild, food might poison me,
But if I were wild, water might drown me.
Then he stops thinking
The tiger behind the bars of his cage growls,
The tiger behind the bars of his cage snarls,
The tiger behind the bars of his cage roars.

The Panther

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.
As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a centre
in which a mighty will stand paralysed.
Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.
To some extent, zoos are necessary for the protection or conservation of some species of
animals. In the forest, they might be hunted down, poisoned by some wild food, or could be drowned in water. But, a zoo is not the correct alternative to a forest. In a zoo, an animal feels caged and bound. They cannot roam freely as in the wild. Only due to this reason, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks have been made in order to conserve several endangered species. These places provide protection as well as natural surroundings to these species. They can roam freely in their habitats and are safe too. The public can visit these parks and get educated about the animals and their lifestyles. The parks and sanctuaries are run using a strict set of rules, the most prominent being the ban on hunting. If animals roam in the open, visitors would not be able to feed them and would not misbehave or try to play with them as they are under strict supervision. Such incidents have been recorded in zoos where people irritate and tease the animals. Hence, a wildlife sanctuary is a good alternative for animals to be safe as well as free to move in their natural surroundings. Yes, they are quite useful for educating the public. The public may get proper information about them.

4. Take a point of view for or against zoos, or even consider both points of view and write a couple of paragraphs or speak about this topic for a couple of minutes in class.
• Teaches about the importance of nature.
• Provides recreation to the visitors.
• Scientists do study about wild animals.
• Saves from danger of extinction.

On the hints given above, the students may develop their views accordingly.

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