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A Tiger's Life by Shae Sager (Grade 7)

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A Tiger's Life by Shae Sager

Part I: Age of Innocence

Hi, my name is Sasha. I am a ten-month-old female Bengal tiger cub. I am one of four cubs. We live with our mother in the hot, humid, mangrove swamps of the Sundarbans in eastern India.

Temperatures in this region can often rise to 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade!
Unlike other cats, us Bengal tigers love to swim and play in the water when the weather gets too hot. Today happens to be a mild day, so my mom has planned to take us hunting. She wants us to learn how to successfully catch our own food. By the time we are 18 months old, we should be able to feed ourselves.

I have never met my dad. My mom claims that he likes to be alone. Even though I have never seen him, I have heard stories about him. Supposedly, he spans 10 feet from his head to the tip of his tail and he weighs about 550 pounds. My mom says that if we pay attention in our hunting lessons, we will grow big and strong like dad. We will be able to stalk and kill deer, wild pigs, and even water buffalo. For now, we can only prey on small animals like monkeys. That’s no fun.

My mom says that it’s important to stalk our prey because we are not very fast runners. That is why we have stripes! Our stripes help us blend in with the tall grass and allow us to sneak up on prey. Our camouflage game is so strong that animals will often walk right by us! Then, once they get too close, pounce! Attack! This is when we unsheathe our retractable claws, grab the animal, and sink our long, sharp, canine teeth into its neck.

Even though this sounds simple enough, I have seen my mom fail dozens of times before she finally makes a kill. By that time, we are starving! As an adult, I will need to eat about 15 pounds of meat a day to survive, but I have seen my mom consume up to 55 pounds when she makes a big kill.

It’s staring to get hot now. I hope the hunting lesson ends soon so I can go play in the water. Mom usually likes to hunt at night. This is because our eyes are designed to adjust to a nocturnal environment. We have a mirror-like layer at the back of our eyes that helps to reflect extra light when it is dark out. For now, I think I’ll practice stalking on my brother while we wait for mom. My tail is twitching with excitement as he comes close to my hiding spot. That’s it. Closer, closer, pounce! Attack! Gotcha!

Part II: The End of an Era

I am now 25 years old. I am at the end of my life span.

As I sit alone among the lush vegetation under a shade tree, I reflect back on my life, from being a cub through adulthood. There was a time when the tiger population was plentiful, and we roamed the land free and proud. Now, there is a new king that has invaded our habitat and threatened our existence. He is called man.

I am one of the lucky tigers. I am both proud and sad because of all that I have witnessed in my lifetime. I am proud because every other year I have raised a fine litter of cubs and taught them valuable lessons and survival skills. Many have gone on to raise cubs of their own. Others, mainly my sons, have been illegally poached and killed by hunters who use their hides to make money. Some people even grind up tiger bones to make medicine. This is what makes my heart sad. We are now an endangered species. While some humans hunt our kind, others are fighting for our existence.

I am growing increasingly weak and tired. I lost one of my canine teeth on my last hunting trip, and without it, I have lost the ability to eat and chew. I know my time has come to an end, but I have lived a successful life. I am a survivor who will simply die of old age in my natural habitat, instead of at the hands of humans.

As I drift off to sleep, my mind returns to the memories of my youth as an energetic cub. The tall grass towers over my head as I practice a stalk on my brother. My tail twitches in anticipation as he draws closer. That’s it. Closer, closer, pounce! Attack! Gotcha!
What has changed since the tiger was a cub?
  1. Tigers have less food to eat.
  2. Tigers have decreased in number.
  3. Tigers no longer enjoy playing in water.
  4. Tigers no longer pay attention to their young.
Which word best fits in the blank?

The tiger's chance of survival was                        as a young cub.
  1. better
  2. worse
  3. the same
  4. difficult to determine
According to the narrator, how are Bengal tigers different from other cats?
  1. They like to swim.
  2. They are very big.
  3. They eat a lot of food.
  4. They are hunted for their fur.
Choose the best word to fill in the blank.

The tiger was                 as a cub.
  1. bigger
  2. stealthier
  3. more beautiful
  4. more energetic
What is likely to cause the tiger to die? (Choose all that apply)
  1. old age
  2. an inability to eat
  3. being killed by a hunter
  4. an attack from another tiger
  5. getting lost in the middle of the forest
Why did the author most likely write this story?
  1. to teach readers about tigers
  2. to tell a cute story about a tiger
  3. to share about the life of a tiger
  4. to raise money to save the tigers
Which choice offers the best summary of the story?
  1. A tiger tells about her life.
  2. A group of tiger cubs go hunting.
  3. A mother tiger raises her tiger cubs.
  4. A narrator explains how tigers became endangered.
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