By Jamie Smith
This tiger was snapped showing off its killer smile as it appeared to grin for a stunned photographer – before cheekily sticking its tongue out.
The toothy tiger looked as though it was smiling from ear to ear, crinkling its nose up in delight and poking its tongue out for snapper, Vipin Sharma.
The 47-year-old, from Dubai, was visiting Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, India when he stumbled upon the cheery-looking cat.
He was so close to the tiger he could even feel his breath as he snapped away but explained the predator’s humorous expression was actually the result of something called the Flehmen response.
He said: “It looks like that the tiger is laughing but this is actually called the “Flehmen response”.
“This is a phenomenon exhibited by cats in which they draw back their lips in a manner that makes them appear to be “grimacing” or “smirking”.
“The action is adopted when examining scents left by other animals either of the same species or prey.
“It is a behaviour in which an animal curls back its upper lip exposing its front teeth, inhales with the nostrils usually closed and then often holds this position for several seconds.
“This is usually performed when a tiger tries to ascertain territorial markings of other tigers.
“The behaviour facilitates the transfer of pheromones scents into an organ located above the roof of the mouth via a duct which exits just behind the front teeth of the animal. They smell either the urine or faeces of the other animal.
“I’ve been visiting and photographing tigers for long and have recorded same behaviour for many times in past, this time the tiger was hardly two feet away from me and while pressing shutter button, I could literally felt the breath of the tigress.”