The Auckland teacher who intervened in a tiger attack was one of the heroes of the Elim School canyoning tragedy.
Daniel Charman watched in horror last weekend as his friend Ruth Corlett was bitten on the leg by a tiger at a Thai tourist venue that allows people to get close to tigers which are supposedly domesticated and trained.
But moments after Mrs Corlett posed for a photograph with a tiger it leapt up and mauled her leg before trying to drag her away.
"It raised its head and looked over at Ruth ... then it just lunged," Mr Charman told the Weekend Herald yesterday.
As the tiger tried to pull her away, Mrs Corlett grabbed hold of his leg. "I'm a big guy and I never thought I'd say it, but it's nice to be big - my weight probably kept us both from being dragged away," he said.
The tiger was still clamped down on Mrs Corlett's leg so he reached out and grabbed its head.
"Looking back, it seems a bit thick but I tried to grapple this tiger's mouth open. I wasn't really yanking it open but sort of tried to prise its [mouth] open."
He acted because no one else seemed to be doing anything to save Mrs Corlett.
"It was one of those moments where everyone was doing nothing. I didn't see anyone do anything, they were just backing away. There were no screams or yells or anything." The trainer did return and hit the tiger on the head, making it release Mrs Corlett.
"Maybe again it was just an instinct thing but it was just that they [centre staff] were so unprepared that I looked at Ruth's leg and I knew from her groans that this was heavy stuff. I told her to get on my shoulders and we got out of the enclosure."
She was taken to hospital where she needed 54 stitches to close the wound.
Mr Charman said he couldn't believe he had found himself in another dangerous situation so soon after the Elim Christian School tragedy at Mangatepopo.