Thiruvananthapuram: Tiger George was a nightmare for the people living in the hilly villages of Wayanad in the beginning, but he soon became a star after he was taken to the zoo in Thiruvananthapuram. He led a long battle, succumbed to his injuries and died at the age of 22 last December. Even though most Malayalis do not know the life story of this 'Malayali' tiger, it happens to be very familiar even to the children in France.
Claire Le Michel, a French contemporary dancer and poet, introduced George the tiger to them through her short stories. Michel is keeping his memories alive by writing about him.
Michel arrived in Kerala a few years back as a guest of the Alliance française de Trivandrum, French language and cultural centre, to study the symbiosis of nature and animals. She found the inspiration to write after meeting the doctor of the zoo, Jacob Alexander, as part of her research.
That was the start of her hearty friendship with the tiger named George. Soon after her return to France, she started a blog and radio series titled 'The Story of George'. George's stories became much loved in France. 38 chapters have been released so far. Characters in the stories include the zoo staff as well.
Many people gather to hear George's stories during 'Reading Night' held at the library in Parthenay town in France. The videos of George captured by Michel make the storytelling more beautiful. Parthenay Town has also started a webpage with stories and events that took place in George’s life.
George was 22 years old at the time of his death, which is much above the life expectancy of tigers. The tiger came to the village from the forest in 2015. He scared the life out of villagers for seven days and nights by hunting and killing more than 30 domestic animals. After being taken to the zoo, the officials found that he had suffered injuries all over his body. The tip of the nose was severely injured.
He became better and recuperated well with good care. He also got the name of the hero from the hit movie 'Premam' starring Nivin Pauly that was released that year. Michel was very much against the concept of a zoo that keeps animals locked. Dr Jacob Alexander said that Michel changed her mind after seeing the care given to animals at the zoo.