Hold Off That Tiger: Shades of “The Hangover” in Real Life

What do you do if you find a tiger in the bathroom?

That was a plot point in the first Hangover movie, and now it’s a real-life story. The Salina Journal reports that last Saturday, a woman who’d gone to the circus went to the bathroom … and there was a tiger “at most two feet in front of me.” The tiger had escaped after its performance. The woman says, “I turned around calmly and walked back toward the door. Someone opened the door and said get out.”

And so she did.

In case this kind of thing should ever happen to you, here’s the advice of tiger expert Philip Nyhus, associate professor of Environmental Studies at Colby College.

1. “Stay calm. The tiger is probably just as surprised as you are.”

2. “You’d want a barrier between you and that tiger. There’s pretty much no good that comes from people and tigers coming together. If you have a door, close the door.”

3.  “Distance would be important. Keep your distance. Don’t get close.”

4.  “Don’t look like food: Don’t run with your back to the tiger. That may actually set off a tiger. A tiger is hard-wired from more than 10,000 years of evolution to run after small things and grab them by the neck and crush the vertebrae. So if you are facing the tiger, it is probably a good thing. Try and look big. Walk backward slowly.”

5.  “Call for help. Make noise.”

6.  If things aren’t going well: “Throw something at it to distract it.”

Above all, hope that the tiger is not a hungry tiger.

Picture of tiger opening its mouth
A tiger shows off its pearly whites. Photograph by Dilip Mehta, Contact Press Images/National Geographic.


Human Journey