Historically, the comparative merits of the tiger versus the lion have been a popular topic of discussion by hunters, naturalists, artists, and poets, and continue to inspire the popular imagination in the present day Lions and tigers, in the past, may have competed in the wild, where their ranges overlapped in Eurasia The most common reported circumstance of their meeting is in captivity, either deliberately or accidentally.
Towards the end of the 19th Century, in India, the Gaekwad of Baroda arranged a fight in an amphitheater, between a Barbary lion called ‘Atlas’, from the Atlas Mountains between Algeria and Morocco, and a Bengal tiger from the Indian region of Shimla, both large and hungry (with their diets reduced before the fight), before an audience of thousands, instead of between the Asiatic lion of India, and the tiger, as Asiatic lions were believed to be no match for Bengal tigers. The tiger was more than 10 feet (3.0 metres) long, over 4 feet (1.2 metres) feet at the shoulder, had long teeth and claws, had strong shoulders, and was agile. The lion looked taller at the head than the tiger, and had large legs, mane and paws. The tiger was seen as “the personification of graceful strength and supple energy,” whereas the lion was seen as the “embodiment of massive power and adamantine muscle. In the fight, both cats sustained injuries, and although the tiger sometimes retreated from Atlas, it would come back to fight it, and in the end, managed to scratch Atlas to death, though Atlas pushed it off in one final move, before dying. The Gaekwad agreed to pay 37,000 rupees, accepted that the tiger was the “King of the Cat Family,” decreed that Atlas’ body be given a Royal burial, and that the tiger should have a “cage of honour” in the menagerie of Baroda, and decided to prepare the tiger for a battle with a Sierran Grizzly bear weighing more than 1,500 lb (680 kilograms). The battle was to happen after the tiger recovered from its wounds.
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