I've always had a love of animals, ever since I was a kid; it's probably why I got into the field of biology in the first place. I took a special fancy to cats; I could marvel at their power and stealth, chuckle at their mischievous playfulness, and hope to have their sense of plucky curiosity. Though I know now they're not just all fun and games, I still can't think that they're just a wonderful creature all around.

While in college While in college, studying for my degree in biology, with my specialty in animal behavior, I decided to write my thesis paper on the social behavior of tigers. In doing so, I was invited with my professor to go to the institute in New Delhi to study tigers first-hand. I was amazed at the offer; I was finally going to see those wonderful creatures up so close I could reach out and touch them. The plane ride was full of the usual custom checks and passports and luggage x-rays, but aside from that, getting to India was a smooth ride. Once in New Delhi, we were introduced to our two mahouts (the Indian equivalent of a native guide), prepared our supplies, and made our way into the jungle the next day.

After several days of travel into the more heavily forested bushlands of India, the mahouts told us that were getting close to tiger territory, and that it would be best to set camp here. In our studies, it was important that we did not alert the tigers of our presence; to do this, we made use of a "masking scent" so that we could come in close without the tigers suddenly catching us downwind. Also, trash was kept strictly inside the camp; anything we produced had to either be scattered in a large radius around the campsite or kept well within the borders. This also meant that simple things like going to the bathroom had to be done well away from camp.

Its time to start researching Having settled in, I decided it about time to start researching. I was not too far away when I noticed my first up-front tiger. It was a tigress, which I named Amber (for her eyes). She was a large female, sleek but muscled, with a lean look only constant exercise and good meals can provide. Her coat was of a dull orange, with jet-black stripes running from her back all the way around her stomach, ending in a splash of white down her belly. As it was, she didn't have the traditional pouch associated with having given several births; she must have still been fairly young as tigers go, maybe three or four years old.

Just watching her movements were like fluid sweeps of power, smooth but well-defined; just her walk was the kind of ballet only cats can create.

For the next couple of days, I would just sit, watching her move with the beauty of an athlete and the grace of a ballet dancer. She had an air of confidence, telling all around that she was here and was not to be taken lightly, for in the back of my mind I had to remind myself that for all that beauty there still is a beast.

I got a break Finally, after about two weeks, I got a break; Amber was prowling about as she usually did when another tiger, a young male, came up to her. He began nuzzling and rubbing up against her, as if to get more friendly, and I realized that he was trying to instigate the beginnings of the mating rituals. Amber, however, was not impressed, turning herself face-to-face with the male and eyeing him warningly. He was persistent, and stepped up his provocation. This only set to annoy Amber, who turned and cuffed him over the face, growling as she did so.

Needless to say, the male left with little more than a parting swat from Amber.

As time went on, it became obvious to me that Amber was in fact the leader of a group of tigers in the area, for two other males tried to initiate mating with her, only to be welcomed with swats and cuffs on the face from Amber. It was no wonder she walked so confidently; she was a queen when it came to this group of tigers, and no one dared to challenge her. I couldn't believe the luck I had stumbled into; I had a prime example of the social structure of an entire group of tigers, and I could study the leader; I was very thankful of the masking scents we developed to allow us to move without a noticeable scent throughout the forest, though I could swear at times that they knew we were there and merely ignored us.

As luck had it, mine petered out a short time later. I was writing out one of my journal entries and found I had to go to the bathroom. As per rules I had to find a decently distant spot and let it go there. So, after some hiking through the woods, I found a convenient clearing and began to urinate. Unfortunately for me, the clearing didn't get any clearer; as I was urinating on the nearby tree, I sensed something behind me. I looked behind me...and Amber looked straight back. Okay, stay calm, I tried to think to myself, and found it was much easier to relieve myself at this point. Hoping that if I ignore her, she will not attack, I promptly finished, and left with a slow but deliberate gait; I hoped that if I showed no fear, she wouldn't think I was fleeing, and consequently would not attack. Having fled the clearing, I circled around to see what she was doing at this point. What I saw came as a surprise - she was sniffing the tree, as if to catch the scent of what I was doing there. It wasn't until I got back to camp that I realized the significance of this; most animals, in order to mark territories, will spray the trees with their urine, using their own unique scent to mark their boundaries. She must of thought I was marking my boundaries, and invariably sniffed the area to see where the boundaries were.

I decided to try and play this out further I decided to try and play this out further. I returned to the clearing, making sure to scent other trees in the nearby area. And without fail, Amber would come around and sniff the trees once again, sensing where I had set my boundaries. For all intents and purposes, I had just become another tiger in the group, and this allowed for some incredible viewing. It was getting to the point that I was just a few feet from Amber; if I reached out my hand I could almost touch her. It was the most exciting time in my life.

Then, a fateful day came into my life. I had decided to do some night watching, for tigers were active in the night as well as the day, and this would lend more insight as to how they interacted. The moon was full and it was warm - optimum conditions for watching. I snuck over to the observing place I had made in my "territory", a bush I had hollowed out some, so that I could see behind the cover of the bushes, but not be seen by anyone inside the clearing. After about two hours of waiting, Amber came around in her usual pattern, sniffing the trees and establishing where this territory covered. If I had been smart enough to get a camera with a night lens, I would have come back with some of the most brilliant photos I'd ever seen; she was looking incredible in the moonlight, the light shining off her coat with a dull gleam as she swished and padded her way, lingering from tree to tree, sniffing them over.

My legs were beginning to cramp from two hours of controlled movement, and as I stepped back to shift position, I made the first cardinal sin of observation; never step without looking first. My foot hit the log I was using to help better hide my back from the other side of the forest, and slipped forwards, sending me flying right through the bush with a loud rustling noise. Amber immediately flicked her ears in the direction of the noise and swung around to see what it was. Lying on the ground, I stayed stone-still, hoping to rely on the fact that tigers rely on smell much more than they do on sight. She came over and stopped directly next to the bush, and, bending her head down, proceeded to sniff at me. I was praying to God that if I was going to die, I wanted it over quick.

She completed her scenting Having completed her scenting, she looked up, looked back down at me... and rubbed her muzzle across my face, purring quietly as she did so. I was taken back at this, and was even more surprised when she did it again. This wasn't what I expected from Amber; I was expecting a slash across my face that would easily shred it to ribbons. Amber suddenly turned away, walked a couple of steps, and stopped holding her tail out high and straight. What my mind in a whirl I realized what was now happening; she was giving me the appropriate response to the beginning of mating! Now I was positive that she thought that I was just another tiger, but the fact that she wanted me to mate with her was mind-blowing. Thoughts were racing, causing my mind to swim.

It didn't swim for very long, for Amber turned back and gave me a swat on the face; she wasn't clawing me, but the force of the blow was enough to shake my mind loose and snap it into focus. She became more insistent, rubbing more roughly against my face and purring even louder. I realized I had to do something, for she wasn't going to let me just walk away without giving her what she wants. Again she turned away, holding her tail up in enticement.

I began to pull off my shorts and brief It was then that I decided - if I was going to get out of this, I would have to go through with it all the way. I began to pull off my shorts and briefs, hoping that this wouldn't startle Amber into doing something violent. But with my clothes off, I suddenly realized it was probably going to be nearly impossible to get an erection while you're scared to death. Amber turned back again, sensing something, and began nuzzling my entire body, working her way from my legs up to my face. With my clothes off, I was amazed at the softness of Amber's fur; for a perfect piece of camouflage, it has the feel of a fine fur coat, soft and sleek and sensual. The feeling was intense, and with it my fear started to ebb slightly. My mind started to relax to this new concept; Amber was trying to be affectionate, and what's wrong with liking it? Sure you're not a tiger, but that doesn't mean the experience would be unpleasant, would it? How can you tell unless you know for sure?

With that I felt my erection start rising, and I tried to be reciprocal with the nuzzling, rubbing my face against her muzzle. Her purring continued to increase, as well as my erection, and it was a short time before I was ready to do what was necessary. Sensing this, Amber turned and presented herself once more, tail standing straight and high. I squatted behind her, trying to find the easiest way to enter her. It's now or never, I thought, as I placed the head of my penis against her vulva and, gripping her back, pressed forward.

Amber growled slightly at the penetration Amber growled slightly at the penetration but didn't budge forward; in fact, she braced her back feet, pushing herself back and completely engulfing my penis. The sensation of being inside Amber was a shock, as a feeling of intense emotion rushed through my body. Gripping onto her flanks, I began rocking slightly, pumping in and out of her as gently as I could. Amber's purring was loud and throaty, and her ears flicked back in a sign of complete emotion. I began pumping a little harder, with the feeling inside me beginning to grow; I was beginning to WANT to mate Amber, to make her feel good, as she had deemed only I could. Amber's purrs turned to growls as her body tightened up on my penis, and as I felt the beginnings of her orgasm coming on, she reared back her head and cut loose a proud, savage roar. I continued to mate her, the emotion starting to overcome any fears I had about Amber, and I came with a savage frenzy of thrusts into her, pumping into her with all my strength.

Having finished, Amber lay down where she was, flopped over on her side and promptly started to lightly doze, purring all the while. I got dressed and snuck away quietly, my mind reeling at the events of the night. I continued to watch Amber, and on another moonlit night not long after, I mated with Amber again, and it surprised how much that savage creature was so tender to another being. Her caresses and nuzzling were that of a love that I have yet to find again.

What loves like a tiger and winks? There is a common joke that goes with the teller asking "What loves like a tiger and winks?", with which the request prods the teller of the joke to wink. I think I'm entitled to tell that joke now...