TIGERS WERE voted the world's favourite animal in a survey published this week. The biggest of the big cats narrowly beat dogs, traditionally man's best friend, in the poll carried out in 73 countries.
More than 50,000 viewers of the Animal Planet cable and satellite channel were asked to choose from a shortlist of 10 animals. In an incredibly close poll for the top spot, Tigers received 10,904 votes, just 17 votes more than dogs, pushing the ever-loveable dolphin into third place. The domestic cat, however, did not make the top ten, although perhaps cat lovers can console themselves that two big cats made the top ten, with the Tiger in first place and the Lion in fifth place.
Around 10,000 viewers in the UK took part in the poll in September and October. The top three animals mirrored the global result, which surprisingly didn’t demonstrate a wildly divergent set of choices depending on different cultures.
Animal behaviourist Dr Candy d'Sa, who worked with Animal Planet on the list, said: "We can relate to the tiger, as it is fierce and commanding on the outside, but noble and discerning on the inside.
"In contrast, the dog is a loyal and respectful creature and brings out the lighter, more communicative side of human nature.
"The large number of votes that the dolphin received shows that we as humans appreciate grace, beauty and vivacity."
There is a great deal of irony that tigers topped the list when the big cat is threatened in many parts of the world and extinct in others.
But Callum Rankine, international species officer at the WWF conservation charity, said the result gave him hope.
"If people are voting tigers as their favourite animal, it means they recognise their importance, and hopefully the need to ensure their survival," he said.
Animal Planet's list of the World's Favourite Animals is:
1. Tiger (21%)
2. Dog (20%)
3. Dolphin (13%)
4. Horse (10%)
5. Lion (9%)
6. Snake (8%)
7. Elephant (6%)
8. Chimpanzee (5%)
9. Orang-utan (4.5%)
10. Whale (3.5%)