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Best Zoo Animal

The Bronx Zoo's charmer, Sasha the Tiger.  
  • Sasha the Siberian Tiger

    Bronx Zoo, Bronx River Pkwy. at Fordham Rd.; 718-220-5100

    For zookeepers, choosing a favorite animal is tantamount to a parent’s naming a favorite child—but eventually they’ll admit that some animals are more engaging than others and that Sasha the Siberian tiger at the Bronx Zoo is best of all. Though most big cats are solitary, Sasha is social, acknowledging his sister and mother, and vocal—he chuffs to greet his designated keepers, a sound they compare to a house cat’s purring. Of course, he’s potentially lethal—his favorite snack is frozen blood—but half the reason people love him is the mix of frisky kittenlike antics and concentrated killing power. Veteran big-cat keeper Jose Vasquez notes that Sasha is smarter and bigger than the average tiger, and evokes an extraordinarily strong response in regular visitors, who ask for him by name: “He’s not a laid-back animal. He’s like a New Yorker—he wants more out of life. He wants the best and biggest possible thing.”

From the 2007 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine