Today, for our prompt of wild animals, we have a bengal tiger, simply because I wanted to try painting one again. I realized the first and last time I ever sketched a tiger was when I first started painting so I wanted to give it another go. Of course, the nature hikes where I live would never include a tiger encounter, unless I was strolling through the local zoo. While I love visiting the zoo, I’ve always thought the tigers seemed the least happy with their surroundings. Sitting there, thoroughly bored or pacing endlessly in hopes something might change. Even tinier domesticated cats get to roam about more freely and they’re a fraction of the size. When I was very young, the tiger enclosure at our zoo was impossibly small, but over the years has expanded quite a bit. Still, when you cage a wild thing, you take something away that’s part of the animal’s DNA, and one has to wonder if that’s a good thing at all. As a kid, I adored the zoo and going to the circus, but still, I felt bad for the animals and wondered, if given the chance, wouldn’t they prefer to have their freedom back?
Last year, after 146 years in operation, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus held its final performances before shutting down entirely. For years, animal rights groups had actively argued against the treatment of animals and successfully had the elephants removed from the show. This caused an even further decline in ticket sales, as the elephants were a main attraction. I remember them as a kid, performing tricks that seemed impossible for such large beasts. It was exciting to go to the circus, except for the clowns which I found terrifying, and I have fond memories of going with my family. It was simply a tradition back then that nobody questioned. An annual event, when the circus once again came to town. It’s funny how our own species continues to evolve. There are so many things that have changed over the years as it can often take years for humans to learn to be more humane.
As people continue to plod across our little green planet, with an arrogant attitude of eminent domain, many creatures get hurt in the process. Indeed, the tiger shown here is unfortunately endangered, with a growing population decline due to habitat loss and human poachers. I’ve always loved animals and, as a kid, I guess I just assumed all of the animals were fine. After all, I was taught how important it was to share. Surely that applied to creatures big and small. We must have been sharing our planet with them as was just the right thing to do. Youth is rife with such naivety. But it’s always filled with wisdom that adults sometimes lose sight of in the quest to expand their horizons. As we take our virtual hike across the planet together discovering nature’s beauty this month, I hope it will shine a positive light on the world we share. A gentle reminder that we aren’t alone. We’ve a rich and fabulous planet that’s filled with amazing natural wonders and beautiful, sometimes fragile, wild things.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!