Given its sheer strength and size, a wild tiger would be perfectly capable of killing a dog. So when one big cat wrapped its jaws around a canine’s neck, it seemed the pooch’s number was up. However, the feline’s fearsome attack wasn’t what it seemed.
In late 2015 a video emerged on YouTube that appeared to show a tiger coming to blows with a domestic doggie. In the offending footage, the big cat pounces at the canine and grabs it around the neck, while another dog attempts to halt the attack.
The feline in question was, in fact, a Siberian tiger – a species native to the mountainous Sikhote Alin area of Russia. The cats could once be found as far as China and Mongolia. But a declining population has limited the tigers’ range.
In the 1940s it was estimated that only 40 Siberian tigers were left living in the wild due to hunting. Subsequent conservation measures have buoyed the species somewhat. However, the big cats still figure as an endangered species, and face threats from poaching.
With that in mind, there’s been a lot of effort placed into breeding Siberian tigers to protect the species for future generations. Conservation areas were established in Russia and beyond, including Oasis – a protected sanctuary that breeds Siberian tigers in Senec, Slovakia.
The project was founded in 1999 and has been home to more than 28 feisty felines over the years. Yveta Irsova runs Oasis. And she lets her three dogs – Blacky, Hugo and Jenny – spend time on the sanctuary alongside the tigers.
It was one of Irsova’s German shepherds that featured in the viral footage of the tiger pouncing. However, it soon emerged that the “attack” wasn’t quite as it seemed. In fact, it seems that the dogs share the same passion for big cats as their owner.
Apparently, some of the tigers at Oasis are friends with the German shepherds who live on the site too. In fact, one big cat named Suria has been best buddies with the dogs ever since she was born at the sanctuary.
So when Oasis welcomed its newest edition Sunny a few years later, she followed in Suria’s footsteps and embarked on a friendship with her canine companions. Since then, the fivesome have spent their days playing with each other.
However, given that some consider cats and dogs to be mortal enemies, the bond between the tigers and the German shepherds has surprised some visitors to Oasis. When Lucia Zustakova stopped by the breeding center, she couldn’t resist catching the unique atmosphere on camera.
In his video, Zustakova included various clips of the tigers and dogs chasing each other around and tussling on the ground. In one particularly adorable scene Sunny the cub shows off his predatory instincts by hiding in some grass so that he can spring a surprise attack on one of the pooches.
Another clip shows Suria challenging two dogs to a play fight inside an enclosure. However, while she would be more than capable of harming the canines, both of them escape the scuffle with their lives intact.
And while tigers might be the bigger and stronger, it’s not always the big cats that come out on top. In one scene, viewers can see a dog giving little Sunny a run for her money as they pounce at the cub, forcing her onto her back.
However, the four-legged friends aren’t always launching attacks on each other. Zustakova’s footage also shows the gang enjoying some downtime. In the clip, the canines play with a ball while Suria and Sunny lounge around in the grass.
But the harmony between the two tribes proves short-lived. Before long, they have resumed their games, play-fighting and chasing each other around the sanctuary. However, as always, the dogs and tigers know not to go too far.
According to Oasis volunteer Martin Ziman, the boisterous gang “never hurt each other.” He told Caters News Agency, “The dogs are almost the same age as Suria and have grown up together. They spend most of the time together. They are really like siblings and play together all day long. “
For Zustakova, watching the two species playing together was extremely special. “It is nice to see it all. It is so amazing when you are so near these beautiful animals,” she said. “Suria plays with the dogs every day, and they just love her.”
Relationships between dogs and tigers are rare, which shows how unique the scenes Zustakova witnessed were. “I love animals and love the Oasis,” she said. “It’s a great project to help these tigers that are facing extinction.”
And thanks to Zustakova’s footage, everyone can enjoy the bond between Suria, Sunny, Blacky, Hugo and Jenny online. Since the video of their exploits landed on YouTube in 2015, it has been viewed more than 380,000 times.
The video has also attracted comments from viewers eager to highlight the positives of both species. “The tiger is my favorite cat on the planet. It seems to have a very good character,” Justin Craig wrote. Meanwhile, YouTube user Industrial Design added, “Dogs are everyone bestfriend.”