This is a manifestation of strong, male entitlement, king of the jungle. A tiger selfie (often seen on a bachelor’s profile) says much more than “I like tigers,” it screams egotistic presentation. It is a profile-pic cliché. It says “I am adventurous, sexy, commanding, virile. I travelled far and wide. I’m daring. I risked my life for this selfie. Now get into bed with me.”
The use of lions and tigers in online dating was a pervasive trend a few years back (perhaps 2014?), but amidst countless, endless, continuous interrogations into the controversial nature of these photographs, this was a trope that fizzled out into disappearance. Conservationists and animal welfare organisations demanded stricter legislation, asking online dating apps to ban these photos altogether. Tinder was the first that requested members to remove any photos posing with big cats due to their exploitative nature. These animals are caged, drugged and put under inhumane conditions for the purpose of a photo. I think everyone can raise their glass to PETA, who were instrumental in bringing this issue into the public eye.
But wait. If like me, you have been endlessly swiping for a year, you might have noticed these big cat photos make a small re-appearance? Is this a revival?
Could this resurgence be accredited to the recently released Netflix documentary Tiger King, featuring the illustrious Joe Exotic. This was one of those hit shows that everyone talked about and if you didn’t watch it, you were excluded, socially shamed. Just like the 1% of the population that didn’t watch Game of Thrones. With every episode, crazy turned into insane, and insane turned into “what the fuck.” Despite all the personal drama that went on between figures in the US exotic animal trade, viewers got a direct view into just how exploitative the nature of this business is. If you saw anyone posing with a big cat on online dating after watching that documentary, I’d hope you blacklist them. Although it seems there are some that didn’t quite get that message. Posing with big cats seemed to turn them on. They wanted a taste of power. A taste of the Joe Exotic life. These people are featured below. Now, this could be a write-off, a trend whose revival fades quicker than a blink of an eye, but there it is. Take what you will of it.