“Always a mom…”
That’s how Syosset’s Mary Ellen Walsh began her recent Throwback Thursday post on Facebook while sharing a picture of her feeding Tasha, an 8-month-old Bengal tiger from Jack Hanna's Columbus Zoo.
Walsh, a media professional who has contributed to Newsday in the past, was working in New Jersey at the Garden State Cat Show and Expo in 1993 in a PR role for cat food manufacturer Sheba. A pair of Bengal tigers were at the Sheba booth to spur attention. Before Walsh knew it she got an unexpected offer from one of the handlers, Andy Lightfoot.
“He was like, ‘Would you like to feed her?’ And I was like, ‘She’s going to eat me.’”
But Walsh ended up being “fascinated” with the cat’s generally docile nature.
“You would think that wild cat would be eating a slab of meat,” Walsh said. “But she needed that bottle, needed that nurturing. She needed her mom.”
Walsh subsequently had three children, and says appeasing Tasha was good training.
“My kids are just as wild,” she joked.
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