I wrote about Ads' obsession with the big cats a few months ago. Since then, the interest has been very much alive and intensifying almost by the day. He now wants to legally change his name to Tiger. A couple of months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night to find him missing from the bed. I ran to the 'toy room' to find him moving around on all floors in the darkness. I thought he must have been sleepwalking (or sleep-crawling) but he was wide awake. He said "Amma, I am a tiger. Tigers hunt at night sometimes."
Leopards, lions, panthers, pumas, jaguars, caracals, mountain lions, cougars, lynxes, cheetahs, smilodons and many more obscure varieties of the big cat - S and I have learnt about these a lot more than we wanted to! I didn't realize how much I had absorbed until Ads was quizzing me one day, at a friend's place in Chennai.
Q: Name one member of the cat family which doesn't look like a cat.
A: Hyenas. Most people think they are cousins of dogs, but they actually belong to the cat family.
Q: Which is more powerful - the lion or the tiger?
A: Lions are faster and longer, but tigers are heavier, more muscular and used to solitary living and hunting. In a fight between lion and tiger, the tiger is more likely to win. In any case, Siberian tigers are the largest variety of tigers and can easily fell a fully-grown lion.
(This is actually a trick question since lions and tigers live in totally different habitats and are unlikely to be involved in a face-off. So the question is hypothetical and can be argued both ways)
Q: How long are the lion's claws?
A: Asiatic lion has 3" claws. Some African lions have claws that are upto 4" long. Bengal tigers have 4" retractable claws.
And so on and so forth.
My friend was like....Whoa...Aps...how do you know all this stuff?
Sigh. If she had to read about tigers morning, noon and night, from 10 different books, watched every show possible on NatGeo Wild and Animal Planet not to mention Animal Faceoff on Youtube, she would know all this stuff by heart too!
It's not just Ads. I've met a couple of kids (both boys) who are experts on dinosaurs and polar bears. It does seem to be a boy thing to get obsessive and nerdy about some subjects, from a very early age - Be it cars or trucks, aeroplanes, spacecraft, tools or wild animals. Ads went through the truck and tools phase around the time he was 3 and 4 years old and now big cats.
This is the fact-sheet he has created on tigers. He's made one for the other big cats as well - lions, leopards, cheetahs and so on - but they are all in Chennai and I only have a photo of this one.
Not to be outdone, we had visited someone's place the other day in Chennai and the aunty there asked Y what her name was. Pat came the answer "Tigress!".