BAGHDAD, Iraq – A U.S. soldier shot and killed a tiger at the Baghdad zoo after it bit another soldier who had reached through the bars of its cage to feed it, a zoo security guard said Saturday.
The soldiers had been drinking beer when they entered the zoo Thursday night after it closed, said the guard, Zuhair Abdul-Majeed.
“He was drunk,” Abdul-Majeed said of the bitten soldier.
After the man was bit, the other American shot the tiger three times in the head and killed it, Abdul-Majeed told The Associated Press.
Judgement clouded by the effects of alcohol, acting on the basis of a macho impulse without bothering to consider the risk, a soldier decides it would be fun to demonstrate his sense of power and ownership over a predatory beast by feeding it some scraps of meat. The animal is dangerous, to be sure, but it is confined in a cage, and the soldier is armed with the latest high-tech weaponry. It will be fun. And besides, it will demonstrate the soldier’s humanitarian side. He’s helping the animal, see?
Ignoring all warnings, he places himself in close proximity to the tiger, and discovers too late that telescopic sights and laser-guided bombs aren’t a guarantee of safety when you are within arm’s length of razor-sharp claws guided by a hostile will. He falls, wounded, and his companion, in a fit of retribution, kills the still-caged beast with three bullets to the head.
Obviously, the soldier is George Bush (or the USA, more generally); the tiger is Saddam Hussein (or Iraq). Both parties come away from the experience having paid a price, the tiger somewhat moreso. And while the soldier would doubtless blame the tiger for the debacle, a more sober observer might view things differently.