Before I begin: no, I have not seen “Tiger King.” I just can’t really get into reality stuff.
My family has a morbid sense of humor. We always joked that my mom wanted to have a casket with balloons tied to each corner that all say “I have a balloon and you don’t.” Just to mess with people, because it would be funny! This is my take on one wish I can make for my own death that would work on multiple levels of practicality and humor.
After giving it some thought, I would like my body to be fed to tigers at the zoo (cut up or whole) after my natural death.
Now, it doesn’t have to be tigers. It can be any large apex predator: wolves, lions, etc. Just not alligators – they already don’t give a damn about eating people. But they do have to be animals in captivity, not in the wild.
Here are my reasons:
1. It’s an efficient use of my remains
When it comes to disposing of remains, burial takes up real estate and is often forgotten by family after two or three decades. As for ashes, my descendants can pass them down for a similar amount of time. But then the people who own my remains no longer hold any connection to who I was, but simply hold onto them out of obligation. They could scatter the ashes, but then I’m just dust in the wind, and easily forgotten.
Being eaten by tigers? Efficient. It leaves nothing behind to pass down. My remains are put to use and effectively cleaned up by the predators. Why burden your family with cumbersome remains, when you could take care of it all and not have it be your responsibility anymore?
2. It’s free enrichment for the tigers
One of the many challenges of maintaining healthy environments for healthy animals in human care is coming up with ways to challenge, entertain, and add quality or value to their activities. Some ways zookeepers do this is to put raw meat in a pumpkin and let the animal try to find a way to get it out. Or they drag meat around the enclosure when the animal isn’t there so they can trace the smell and use their instincts when they return.
It keeps the mind sharp and the body active. For this exercise, why not toss in some human limbs for them to check out? It’s tasty, and something they hopefully have never experienced before. So it will pique their curiosity, hunting instincts, and test their intelligence.
3. Social experiment
Sometimes people wonder if their dog would eat their body if they were to die in the home and not be discovered for a few days. I figure this just kicks it up a notch. Can a cub, raised entirely in captivity with a loving relationship with their caretakers, recognize that this meat is the same thing as the people who they consider part of their pride? Will they refuse to eat it? Will they treat their caretakers differently after they have eaten me? The animal psychology research potential is outstanding, and one could even say, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually test these theories.
4. It’s badass
Come on. Being eaten by tigers? How many people can claim that?! Do you want people to remember you by a moss-covered tombstone, or “Oh, great great grandma Emi? Well she was fed to tigers back in ‘66.” That’s fucking radical and you know it.
5. If I consent to it, it’s the safest way to do this for the tigers
Think about it the same way that an open-minded liberal mom in the suburbs thinks about marijuana and her teenage sons: They are probably curious about it, and want to try it. So, I would rather they do it in a safe, supervised way so that we know they are safe, rather than sneaking out behind our back to try it. I would rather let them have a little freedom to see if it’s good or not so that they don’t feel the need to hide these impulses for me.
6. Chaos, even in death
I like to think I am the weird, chaotic friend in others’ lives. Everything I do is an adventure, and nobody can ever predict what comes out of my mouth next, including beliefs that I talk about at work such as the subject of this article.
And if this event of being fed to tigers creates a massive uproar (ha) in the general media. If it sparks debates, or even if the tigers get a taste for human flesh after this and start to turn on people, then I think that would be an on-brand legacy for my death the same way I led my life. Let there be chaos. What are you gonna do, sue me? I’m dead, I don’t care! You cannot wound me in a way that matters! Let anarchy reign!
Essentially, the plan is that if I ever see my death on the near horizon in old age or fatal illness, I will start to write letters of inquiry to local zoos. Hopefully one nearby, as shipping human remains involves a lot of mula and red tape.
Wild tigers wont do – they would just view me as another carcass rather than a person, like zoo tigers who spend every day seeing people. My fiance, however, is quoted as I am writing this with “If you die before me I’m not feeding you to tigers” which hey, I’m dead, I can’t really force you to, love. But if you think about it, the consent of being fed to tigers after I have died naturally is very efficient!
Anyway, donate to local wildlife preservation and rehabilitation near you, learn about how we can protect the endangered species of our world, and contribute to the World Wildlife Foundation. Okay, toodles.