Dodging Tiger Spray

Write about an experience where you learned something.


The Siberian tiger roared and twisted his massive body as he pressed his paws against the chain-link fence. Miniscule dirt particles trickled from his raised paws while saliva strings dripped from his gaping mouth. I stood on the other side of the fifteen foot fence, entranced; unable to stop staring into the animal’s enormous emerald eyes.

A heavy weight fell onto my left shoulder. I let out a yelp and spun around to meet whatever dangerous creature had been let loose from its pen.

“A little jittery this morning, Caitlyn?” Hearing the playful voice of my new employer, Katja, I lowered my guard and squinted against the blinding desert sunlight. She turned to look at the prowling tiger.

“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of Khan? He’s a jokester. Khan likes to play with the newcomers. He just wants his breakfast.” Katja led me to the nearby “kitchen” and held open the heavy metal door. I walked across the threshold and promptly fell down. I rose up on my hands and knees to find Katja laughing at me and holding a very disgruntled looking turtle.

Working as an assistant animal keeper out in the Red Rock Desert, I routinely found myself interacting with menacing “beasts”. Every Saturday I would drive 40 miles to donate my time and possibly...

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