Mexico City (AFP) – French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac has received a rare tribute from hundreds of Mexican schoolchildren, who voted to name a newborn Bengal tiger at their local zoo after the Mexico-based star.
But there’s one big difference between Gignac the footballer and Gignac the tiger: their personalities.
Soon after Gignac the tiger cub was born at the La Pastora zoo in Monterrey, it had to be separated from its mother, who “was a first-time mom and hadn’t developed her parenting skills, such as nursing and caring for him,” said the director of the parks and wildlife department for the state of Nuevo Leon, Edgar Acosta.
Raised by human caretakers, the six-month-old tiger has “turned into a very docile animal,” he said — unlike his namesake, who has made a name for himself as something of a wild character.
Gignac, who plays forward for the Tigres of Monterrey, threatened to leave Mexico in May “because of the press” when a journalist accused the player of hitting him after a disappointing loss in the Liga MX final.
The 31-year-old international was also embroiled in controversy in February when he pushed another journalist to cut short an interview after another loss.
His namesake tiger, by contrast, is “very manageable and very playful,” said Acosta, who has even brought the cub to his office with him on several occasions.
Despite his reputation, Gignac was all smiles at the news, Acosta said.
He “is thrilled and very proud that the kids think of him and have recognized him like this,” Acosta told AFP.
Gignac was expected to visit the zoo in the coming days to meet his namesake, the first tiger cub ever born there.
The cub’s name was chosen in a competition that drew entries from some 3,000 schoolchildren across the state, ages six to 12.
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