A young child in Ireland had a dramatic encounter with a Siberian tiger at the zoo that was captured on video and quickly went viral on social media.
Sean Costelloe, 7, visited the Dublin Zoo on December 22 with his family. While standing by the tiger exhibit, his father, Rob Costelloe, began filming. He told the boy to stay by the glass as he noticed the tiger moving around in the background. The video is embedded below.
Rob noticed the tiger crouch down in a “stalking” position. In the video, Rob is heard telling Sean to stay where he was. The boy briefly turned around to look at the tiger, which paused as soon as it saw Sean looking. When Sean turned back around to face the camera, the tiger ran forward and launched himself at the glass.
Sean jumped away from the glass as the rest of his family members could be heard laughing at the tiger’s antics. Rob posted the video on Twitter and it has been viewed nearly two million times. He jokingly wrote, “My son was on the menu in Dublin Zoo today #raar.”
Rob Costelloe Said Sean Was Laughing About the Encounter & Was Enjoying the Attention Generated From the Video
For those who may have been concerned about little Sean Costelloe and whether he had been terrified, you can rest assured that he is doing just fine. His father told RTE that Sean wasn’t fazed by the incident and that he actually was laughing after the tiger pounced on the glass.
Rob told the news outlet, “I think it’s something he’ll enjoy telling his friends at school when he’s back after the Christmas break.” He said that Sean “thinks he’s famous” due to the attention the video generated and is enjoying the moment.
Rob added that he does feel a bit sorry for the tiger. “Obviously there’s great conservation that happens in zoos around the world, but [the animals] are obviously captive as well.”
He wrote in a follow-up tweet on December 23 that the reaction to the video had been “bonkers.” He wrote, “Wasn’t exactly expecting the video to blow up the [way] it did. Some strange comments but most positive and taking it in the spirit it was intended. I’m sure @DublinZoo would welcome any donations for all the hard work they put into conservation.”
The Siberian Tiger May Have Simply Been Playing; the Animals Are Not Known to Attack Humans
Sean Costelloe’s father joked that his son had been “on the menu” but the Siberian tiger, also known as an Amur tiger, may have simply been playing with him. The Irish Post noted that the animal’s claws had not been out. This indicated that the tiger was likely just playing a game.
Adding to this theory is that the tiger apparently did this with other zoo visitors on the same day. Rob Costelloe retweeted a video from another parent who wrote, “My daughter and 2 nephews would be tasty little morsels for this poor hungry kitty!” In the video, the tiger was again seen launching at the glass once the children had turned their backs.
According to Animal Planet, tigers do not seek out humans as prey. The animal will go on the attack if the tiger feels threatened, such as if a person enters the habitat. Weakened or sick tigers may also target humans if other prey is not available.
The Dublin Zoo Is Working to Preserve the Amur Tigers, Which Are an Endangered Species
There are only about 500 of these animals left in the wild. Their natural habitat used to stretch across northeastern China and into Mongolia, according to TigersinCrisis.com. The Siberian Tiger is the largest tiger and can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. But the tigers have been dying out due to loss of habitat and poaching.
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