A zookeeper at Berlin Zoo has told of the moment he feared for the life of a Bengal tiger who was the victim of a savage rebuke from a concerned father who jumped into the tiger's enclosure to stop his daughter from messing about.
Matthias Schitzenhausen, 112, the tiger's keeper, told me:
"Ze tiger - ve can him Mauler - voss petrified. Zis girl umped over ze fence and tried to get into hiz mouse. It voss really scary - not as scary as Auschwitz, but you know vot I mean."
Schitzenhausen later told us that he thought that people should be stopped from coming into the zoo, as this kind of incident had happened before, and would probably happen again. He said that another tiger, Fido, had been forced to put up with people shouting, laughing, screaming and leering at him for more than 20 years, and that he was "just about fed up of it".
Mauler is a 12-foot Bengal tiger, and eats more than 50 pounds of red meat every day, but he was frozen stiff with fright when the 7-year-old girl, the daugher of Mr Terry Bulparent, scaled the perimeter of his enclosure, and proceeded to 'tinker about' with his tail.
In an attempt to warn Mauler, Mr Bulparent, shouted at the tiger at the top of his voice, as he climbed into the pen to stop his daughter in her tracks, scaring the tiger even more. A traumatised Mauler told us later:
"It's no fun being a tiger, you know! It was like Piccadilly Circus! I wondered how many more people were going to climb over the fence!"
Well, he growled it.