Short Analysis of Leslie Norris’s A Tiger in the Zoo

A Tiger in the Zoo is a poem by Leslie Norris. It contrasts a tiger when it is in its natural habitat and when it is imprisoned in a Zoo.


This poem contrasts a tiger in the zoo with the tiger in its natural habitat. The poem moves from the zoo to the jungle, and again back to the zoo.

In the zoo, he has no freedom. He is kept in a cemented cell behind the bars. He feels angry, frustrated, and helpless. This reminds him of his natural habitat, his hiding and sliding in the long grass near the water hole and pouncing upon the fat deer, the way he terrorized the villagers, displaying his sharp teeth and claws.

At night in the zoo, he hears the sounds of patrol cars. The tiger in the zoo appears helpless as a mere showpiece and source of entertainment to people. He pays no attention to the visitors who come to watch him. In the silence of the night, he stares at the brilliant stars with his bright eyes.

The poet wants to convey that it is cruel to keep wild animals in small enclosures of the zoo, away from their natural habitat. They feel angry, helpless, and unhappy in the cage. Animals should be allowed to live in their natural habitat as they derive true happiness only there.

Poetic Devices

Imagery: The phrase ‘lurking in shadow’ creates a word picture of some danger hovering over the animal who has come to drink water. Other such word pictures are “sliding through” and “plump deer”.

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