Even though the man was pushing with all of his weight, the door still wouldn't budge. Slamming his shoulder into the door, he pushed as hard as he could until the door started to give. The snow must have been blocking it. It was quiet snowy morning, but the silence was suddenly cut by a low growl. The man's blood turned to ice.
Alexey Khaideyev lives in a tiny Siberian community on the border of Solontsovy. The town literally borders the pure wilderness of the Khabarovsk area. This region is well known for its abundant wildlife and scenic snowy landscapes. Alexey had no clue that he was about to encounter a dangerous interaction with the largest land predator on the planet.
Alexey opened his eyes to the uncomfortable silence of a cold, snowy morning. He immediately put on his jacket and gloves and climbed out of bed to head downstairs. He got a cup of coffee and headed towards the front door to enjoy the scenery. Oddly enough, when he attempted to open the door, it wouldn't budge. He assumed that it was being blocked by snow, so he continued to push harder.
It's a common occurrence for houses to get snowed in during the winter months. Alexey became anxious thinking about the incredible amount of snow building up on his roof and then falling down to his front porch. He began to think that he should have put more salt on his roof. Now he was going to be stuck all day.
Alexey began to push harder on the door to get it open. It opened just a crack, but it refused to move another inch. It felt like someone was pushing from the other side. Someone who was extremely strong. But who would push on Alexey's door as he was trying to open it? He looked through the crack, and then he heard a noise that caused him to frantically look for his phone.
If you've ever been snowed in then you understand how intense it can be. You can't see out the windows and you hear strange noises. Bit Alexey had never heard snow make this kind of noise, and he was afraid for his life!
As soon as he heard the deep growl, Alexey filled with terror, and he quickly shut the door. Fear began to flow through his body, into his legs and his mouth. He clenched down on his tongue to stop himself from screaming out loud. He crept towards the door again with his phone in his hand. He needed to know what was behind the door.
Opening the door just a tiny bit once again, Alexey looked outside. As soon as he realized no one was messing with him, his fear began to grow. All of a sudden, through the crack in the door, he saw a flash of orange, and what appeared to be fur covered in snow. With fear in his heart and shaking hands, he called 911.
The authorities thought Alexey was lying at first. They just figured someone was prank calling them. But Alexey's shaking voice made them think again. Alexey explained what he had seen, and told them that he was being blocked from leaving his home by a large animal. A unit was sent to Alexey's home, but the police couldn't believe what was happening when they arrived.
When the police arrived at Alexey's house, they couldn't believe what was happening. A large orange mass was lying right next to Alexey's front door. It wasn't exactly normal to see a wild animal journey so close to a village that was inhabited by humans. What was it doing there? As they leaned in closer to the snarling animal, they understood that there was something wrong with the beast.
Typically, tigers like to keep to themselves in the wild. They usually only venture to human settlements because they're in need of something, whether it's food or medical attention. The fact that this tiger was sitting on the porch was a very clear indication that something was wrong. How could they possibly help such a large, predatory animal?
As soon as the authorities saw the Amur tiger sitting on the porch, they called the Ministry of Natural Resources of Khabarovsk, hoping they could help them figure out what was wrong with the enormous creature. The roads were covered with snow, so they took a while to arrive. Unfortunately, things were looking worse for the tiger.
Galina, Alexey's neighbor, explained the situation in an interview, “The tiger spent all the day on Alexey’s porch until the emergency team arrived." Finally, the rescuers arrived and gave a tranquilizer to the tiger so they could look at her. As soon as they opened her large jaws, they realized why she had stayed on the porch.
The tiger was suffering from dental issues and there were no front teeth in her mouth. She also had a horrible gum infection, which probably made it difficult to hunt and eat her prey. The evidence of malnutrition could be seen in her body because she was incredibly malnourished. So was that why she had traveled into town?
The rescuers knew that the tiger was in danger, so they immediately moved her to the Amur Tiger Center. The director of the center, Sergey Aramilev, explained, “The tigress behaved absolutely peacefully as if she was waiting for human help.” The rescuers believe that the tigress was so desperate for help that she made her way to the village, and they immediately gave her the help she required.
The Amur Tiger Center is located in Alekseevka, Primorsky Krai, and it was started in 2013, by the Russian Geographical Society. The staff at the center is 100% dedicated to protecting and treating Amur tigers, which are an endangered species. But thanks to their efforts, the Amur tiger population is slowly rising. But could they save this sick tigress?
When they arrived at the center, the tiger returned to her wild nature. She began snapping and growling at anyone who tried to help. This was obviously a problem because they couldn't get close enough to help her. “The animal, though she came for help, will not allow us to approach her,” said Sergey.
“In her current physical condition, it is deadly to put her under an anesthetic; yet without this, it is impossible to carry out ‘active’ treatment,” he explained. Regardless, they had to do something to help the dying tigress, so they came up with a plan to give her antibiotics without having to get too close to her deadly claws.
This special tiger was included in a dying species. There are only about 500 Siberian tigers left in the wilderness of Eastern Russia, and considering this tiger was a female, she was needed to continue the line of this beautiful species. The rescuers decided to give the tiger minced meat with hidden antibiotics inside of it. They had to get rid of the infection before they could do any kind of surgery on her teeth.
Without the surgery, this poor tiger would surely die. Would she be able to calm down enough to eat the antibiotics? Would she be strong enough to fight off the infection? Only time would tell, but the center was going to keep fighting for her until she could do it herself.
After the tiger was given antibiotics, she seemed to be getting better, but the staff at the center was still uncertain. “We will not hide that the situation with the tigress is sad. Now everything depends on her. We really hope that the tigress will pick herself up and survive. For our part, we are doing everything possible," said Sergey Aramilev.
The center did everything they could to provide the proper care to the tigress. All they could do now was sit and wait until she felt good enough to fight for herself.
In the meantime, there is still cause for celebration in the world of endangered tigers. Amur tigers are the largest cat species in the world (they weigh an incredible 700 pounds and can grow to10 feet long). In 1995, there were only 370 Amur tigers in the Siberian wild. Thanks to the center, and other conservation efforts, their numbers have nearly doubled.
Imagine how surprised Alexey must have been to open his door and see such an obscure animal sitting on his porch! He was incredibly frightened, but he knew she needed his help. The tiger certainly followed her instincts, as well, and she was lucky to land at his door.
It would be a very sad day if there were no more tigers on this Earth. Unfortunately, they're far from the only animal facing the fear of extinction. There are many organizations out there that are working towards animal conservation, but they need all of the help they can get.