Arts & Culture News

Who Wins in a Fight: Chimp or a Tiger? The Dallas Zoo Settles Debate

Last week I participated in a bit of a Facebook debate started by one of our Arts & Culture own (see above). With 38 comments, there was some heavy debate mixed in with the quips. Most skewed on the side of the tiger. But a few of us supported that a chimp could use its agility to swing around and attack the tiger, horseback-style. It went back and forth for some time. I'm ashamed to say that despite an inherent desire to root for the not-that-little guy, I didn't make such hot arguments for the chimp win.

It lasted more than 24 hours and included such notable contributions as:

We decided, in the end -- especially considering Brew at the Zoo taking place tomorrow night (hint, hint, y'all) and the teasing that might commence should I set foot on Zoo soil -- it would be best to settle the debate before this weekend's celebration. So, we asked: chimp or tiger? As well as some other match-ups too. And Dallas Zoo Deputy Director of Education and Interpretation Sean Greene answered them all.

Read the unexpected and incredibly entertaining responses to our questions after the jump.

Who would win in a fair fight (no ambush or weapons, healthy animals):

Chimpanzee versus tiger?

Sean Greene: Tigers. Although chimps are incredibly powerful and more intuitive, the tiger is the largest cat species on the planet, with some males weighing more than 600 pounds. This superior predator is a powerful runner, swimmer, and can leap 30 feet in a single bound. Safety in numbers might give a chimpanzee an edge, but by itself this pragmatic primate would be climbing the highest tree faster than you can say banana.

Hyena versus hippo? This contest would be no laughing matter for a hyena; the hippo dominates. This highly aggressive, semi-aquatic river horse is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa and the third largest land mammal on Earth, next to elephants and rhinos. It has been clocked at nearly 30 mph on land and has jagged tusks more than a foot and a half in length. Although hyenas have extremely powerful jaws and typically hunt in groups, hippos can hold their own against any predator in Africa.

Honey badger versus pink Amazon River dolphin? Pound for pound the honey badger, also known as the ratel, may be the toughest animal on Earth. This relative of the mustelid family looks (and acts) like a skunk on steroids. It eats venomous cobras for a snack. Their idea of fun is tearing into bee hives for a taste of honey with a hundred angry bees stinging in an unsuccessful attempt to drive it away. By contrast, the Amazon river dolphin is a gentle, non-confrontational animal that is truly a rare sight in the waters of South America. Although it would easily outpace any mammal in an aquatic habitat, it would rather flee than fight. Think Michael Phelps versus Mike Tyson, and hope the latter can't swim.

Who would win in a long distance race: a dik-dik or an ostrich? The Ostrich, by a neck. The dik-dik is a small antelope that grubs on shrubs, shoots, fruits and berries, possesses excellent eyesight and the ability to reach 26 miles-per-hour. An ostrich is the largest flightless bird in the world, with a long neck and legs that help it reach speeds of nearly 60 miles-per-hour. Both animals are the hunted instead of the hunter, so they need speed and endurance to outpace predators. But the ostrich is twenty times bigger than a dik-dik, and size and strength typically prevail.

Who can eat more, with respect to body size, in 5 minutes: a giraffe or a blue jay? The Blue Jays flies to the top of this category. Although the giraffe weighs more than a ton and is the tallest land mammal on Earth at more than 16 feet in height, it grazes on twigs, grass and fruit. Giraffes might eat between 40 to 75 pounds a day, but because of their relatively small mouth a lot of time and energy is spent chewing and eating. By contrast, the Blue Jay, native to North America, has a more proportionate mouth that allows it to eat 10 percent of its weight a day in acorns, soft fruits, spiders and insects (butterflies, ants, bees, and cockroaches). This large songbird can carry food in a pouch located in the upper esophagus -- called a "gular". So from a storage capacity: 2 or 3 acorns in the gular, one in the mouth and still another in the tip of the bill. Gluttony at its feathered best.

At the Dallas Zoo, we serve and support the future of wildlife through education, entertainment and conservation . . . so when the Dallas Observer asked for our help, we were happy to oblige. If you have other animal questions, just let me know and we'll get you answers!

You hear that folks?! We can ask more questions! Post your bizarre match-ups in the comments and perhaps our new pal Sean will illuminate us with animal education in future posts! We are so excited -- this calls for a beer, don't you think?

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Merritt Martin
Contact: Merritt Martin