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Taxanomic mis-identification in classic literature


Savannah Super Cat
A. A. Milne and his illustrator E. H. Shepard got it wrong. (by Sum Wakkadoo)

Based on recent research at the Tort518 Experiencial Facility the possibility that A. A. Milne and his illustrator E. H. Shepard mis-identified the character Tigger in the books of Winnie the Pooh.

Chief observer at the Facility, Jim, said "Milne's description of Tigger's leaping, pouncing, and more importantly spring-like bouncing locomotion appear to be a better fit to the African Serval. Tigers are great pouncers and leapers, but they are not known for spring-like bouncing."

Observation of video footage showing African Servals shows a prodigeous capability to suddenly spring high in the air in any direction and land safely. Additional observation of Savannah cats, a domestic hybrid decended from the African Serval, in the recreation chamber at the Facility convinced researchers that this bouncing Milne focused heavily on for the Tigger character could only be describing this ability of the Serval.

"I accidentally startled Yuki, our three year old fifth generation Savannah. She instantly sprang up and to the rear landing with precision from a height of nearly 5 feet." said chief researcher Jim. "It was amazing how quick, clean, and effortless it was performed."

Further evidence points to the confusion Milne and Shepard experienced when creating the Tigger character. A picture of the original stuffed animals (shown in the wiki for Winnie the Pooh) shows Tigger as a confusing pastiche of medium and big cat types.
Looking at the plush doll you do see tiger-like stripes, however the head, which is too large for either animal, shows the distinct triangular, almost fox-like shape of the serval, though the ears are very small, likely owing to the difficulty of having large ears remain upright on stuffed toy animals. The tail is also an indicator being shorter than that of a tiger, more in keeping with the serval. Sadly the legs are stumps so no conclusion can be determined from them. And last the base color is not the bright tiger orange, instead being very close to the common color of the African Serval.

Judging by the innacuracies of the other stuffed toy animals in the picture it is not surprising that this mistake could happen come time for illustrations.

Another telling fact is that in the stories where Tigger is mentioned, not once does Milne actually identify the species of the character directly.

Further, the character is quoted as having described himself thus: "Their tops are made out of rubber, their bottoms are made out of springs." This more accurately describes the African Serval's movement characteristics than the much larger Tiger.

More research needs to be completed before a definite conclusion can be made. Regardless of the outcome it is agreed that had these works been of a scholarly nature instead of entertainment for young children, a taxanomic incongruity of this magnitude would have resulted in both Milne and Shepard being laughed out of their chosen field of study.

Is Tigger a Tiger or a Serval? We may never be certain.
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SV Dad

Savannah Super Cat
Well now, more research is needed. I suspect Tigger may have been intended to be a Serval, but due to copyright infringements (yeah, somebody probably copyrighted Servals and wants to collect royalties...:rolleyes:) , the authors could have improvised and put stripes on a serval body. And to further distance themselves from this infringement, they gave the name "Tigger" to divert the lawyers off the trail. Such injustices are common in the literature business.
Nice job exposing this subterfuge!


Staff member
That tiger bouncing on his tail traumatized me as a child. I knew something was wrong with him but lacked the life experience to figure out what it was. This abomination must be stopped. I'm going to write a petition. When i think of all the money I spent on therapy....:uh oh: