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Pope Francis seemed excited to pet a tiger at a jubilee for circus and travelling show people in Vatican City. But to his surprise, the big cat was not as thrilled.

As he sat back and smiled at the big cat and its hunger for milk, the pope abruptly rose from his seat, intrigued by it all.

Upon reaching out his hand, the tiger immediately directed its attention towards Rome’s most prominent leader, showing signs of aggression and perhaps fright. Pope Francis began to converse with a few of the circus workers before attempting to pet it again.

When he did, the tiger continued to drink its milk, keeping close peripheral vision on the man dressed in white.

Pope Francis thanked the traveling performers for how they open their shows “to the most needy, the poor and the homeless, prisoners and disadvantaged kids,” Vatican Radio reported.

“This too is mercy — to sow beauty and joy in a world sometimes gloomy and sad,” he added.

Lauren Grose |