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Daily Mandarin - Horse/Tiger

You can type the six-digit date November 4th 2015 "110415" to get an auto response vocal recording, pinyin and translation for today's expression.

Today's expression is 馬馬虎虎 - So-so; average; not good, not bad

You probably already know this expression, but do you know where it comes from?

In the Song Dynasty, there was a painter who liked to paint anything he felt like painting. Most people could not understand his paintings. One day, when he had just finished a painting of a tiger's head, his friend came to ask him for a painting of a horse. So, he painted a horse's body with the tiger's head.

His friend asked him if the painting was of a tiger or a horse. He answered "馬馬虎虎 (horse and tiger)".

His eldest son asked him "what was in the painting?" He answered, "a tiger." However, when his younger son asked him he answered, "a horse.

Shortly after this, his eldest son, while hunting, shot someone’s horse because he thought it was a tiger. The painter had to pay the owner of the horse a lot of money.

His second son went out and saw a tiger and he wanted to ride it because he thought it was a horse. But, when the boy tried to ride the tiger it killed him.

The painter was, naturally, somewhat sad about this, so he burned the painting and wrote a poem: "Horse-tiger painting; horse-tiger painting; my eldest son shot a horse because of the picture, my second son was killed because of the picture; The picture was burned in the lobby. Hope other people will not make the same mistake like me.

n.b. 馬虎 = careless

Five white Bengal tigers born at Chinese zoo
by Patrick Scally

This week saw auspicious news emerge from the Yunnan Wild Animal Park (雲南野生動物園), as five healthy white tiger cubs were born without complications. This is the second time in five years the zoo has overseen the birth of tiger quintuplets.

Handlers at the zoo reported on October 24 that a pregnant white Bengal tiger had become restless and irritable, pacing her enclosure continuously. Less than a day later, following a two-hour labor, she was caring for five newborn cubs, all of them white. Zookeepers and veterinarians are now observing the newborns and their mother carefully to ensure continued health.

Although all five cubs were deemed healthy, their handlers do have concerns regarding rearing. Female Bengals have only four nipples, meaning the weakest of the cubs could be forced to wait to nurse — or possibly starve — if its brother and sisters prove aggressive. Veterinarians are reportedly working around the clock to step in if such a situation were to arise.

The head breeder at the Yunnan Wild Animal Park told reporters tigers kept at the zoo are typically fed a diet of raw beef and chicken. However, as the pregnant tiger neared labor, she was confined to a specially built, two-room enclosure and is now being given a supplementary selection of eggs, liver and purpose-bred pheasants to augment her health.

The mother — who oddly enough does not appear to have a name — is a six year-old Bengal tiger who has successfully given birth twice in the past. She is one of the zoo's 32 adult tigers. Wild white Bengal tigers are believed to be nearly extinct, although roughly 200 captive animals are kept in zoos around the world. The births this week tie a captive record for cubs first set at the Yunnan Wild Animal Park in 2010.

Bengal tigers once ranged across Bhutan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, but are now concentrated in small protected pockets of the latter three countries. Currently, 2,500 of the endangered animals are estimated to live in the wild. Bengal tigers grow to between two-and-a-half and three meters long, and weigh anywhere from 180 to 250 kilograms. White Bengal tigers — whose appearance is caused by their conspicuous lack of a gene associated with fur pigment — typically grow to be slightly larger than their orange cousins.

The births are seen as a boon for the Yunnan Park. White tigers are not only a rare sight, but hold special significance in Chinese mythology. In Daoism for instance, the cardinal direction 'West' is represented by a white tiger, who also symbolizes autumn. That the five cubs in Kunming are not only white, but were also born in October, is no doubt an propitious public relations bonanza for the zoo where they are kept.

source: GoKunming