This bronze statue located at Tobacco Dock in Wapping commemorates an incident in 1857 in which a newly arrived Bengal tiger escaped from its wooden crate, terrorised the local population and absconded with a boy in its mouth.
The tiger, along with various other animals, had just arrived at a premises on Betts Street, just off the Ratcliffe Highway, which was owned by exotic animal trader Charles Jamrach, the man behind Jamrach’s Animal Emporium, when it made its break for freedom.
The boy, variously said to be seven, eight or nine-years-old, had apparently approached the tiger to pet it when the tiger took the boy by his jacket and carried him off in its mouth, presumably looking for a quiet place to consume its prey.
Jamrach followed, subsequently bailing up the tiger and, thrusting his cane into the big cat’s throat, forcing it to let go of the no-doubt terrified boy.
The tiger, which was guided back to its cage after the event, was subsequently sold for £300 to George Wombwell and went on to become a popular tourist attraction in his travelling menagerie.
Despite being relatively unharmed, the boy (variously described as seven, eight or nine, however, sued Jamrach and was awarded some £300 in damages – the same amount Jamrach had sold the animal for.
The statue is located near where the event happened by Tobacco Dock’s Pennington Street entrance.