Tigers & Piglets: An Urban Legend Explained
I told my student that I'd seen these before and wanted to check out the story. Thankfully, Snopes.com came to the rescue yet again, letting me know that these were real photos, but with an inaccurate description. You can read the full story here, but in brief, I received an even more recent e-mail than the one Snopes addressed; they discuss one that made the rounds in which the tigress was supposedly given these piglets as a treatment for depression after losing her own cubs. As it turns out, these images come from the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Thailand, where this is apparently a common form of visual entertainment for zoo patrons.
There have been a lot of problems at, and concerns about this zoo: the Animal Welfare Institute has noted that this zoo has been investigated for illegally breeding and selling its tigers for use in Chinese medicines and that somewhere around 80 to 100 tigers died at the zoo due to an outbreak of avian influenza. I guess this type of creation of a story and a heavily-forwarded e-mail around an image isn't all that surprising--just look at how much has been made out of Barack Obama's decision to be a good guest on a visit to Kenya.