Dyrk Daniels captures an unusual moment between a Golden Bengal Tiger and a baby girl.

While I’m away from my daughter at work, there are times when I feel just like this Golden Bengal Tiger – caught behind a barrier of responsibilities and my daughter where only I’m fortunate enough to spend 2/3 of my day during the week. Of course the days I feel like mauling my daughter are only armed with smooches.

The Daily Mail was first to jump on this 2009 photo with an article posted on October 31st, 2011 – proving photography diamonds in the proverbial-internet-rough may be lost but never forgotten. Likewise, we totally jumped on it a month and a half after the Daily Mail – to be fair we only have Zach to fall back on as the content monster around these parts of 8BitDad.

I did manage to get in touch with photographer, Dyrk Daniels, who captured the amazing photo between Taj, the 370-pound Golden Bengal Tiger, and a little girl at the Cougar Mountain Zoo in Issaquah, Washington State. He has two children and Mr. Daniels was awesome enough to accept my request and answer a few of my fatherhood-related questions for this 8BitDad exclusive.

Taj approaches a little girl waiting near the front of a small crowd.

Understanding the animal’s behavior, needs and focus allow me to better position myself to get the shot that I am looking for, likewise with my children, my understanding of them allows me to be there when they need me and to give them space when they don’t.

8BD: Is photography a hobby or do you do it for a living?

DD: No, I am an engineer by trade.

8BD: How long have you been active as a photographer?

DD: 5 years.

Engineer and Photographer, Dyrk Daniels

8BD: The Daily Mail stated that you’re a father of two, how old are your children now?

DD: My daughter is 21, a senior at Washington State University, majoring in communications. My son is 19, a sophomore at the University of Washington, studying mechanical engineering.

8BD: Have your children taken after your passion of photography?

DD: Yes, my daughter really enjoys photography. She uses my old Nikon D80. She is very interested, but focused more on graduating this May.

8BD: What have you taught your children about animals and zoos?

DD: I have tried to instill a healthy respect for all animals (not just the cute ones) and to appreciate the fact that zoos around the world are trying to preserve endangered species of animals and to educate the world on how precious these creatures are and that every effort to save them in the wild should be made.

8BD: There’s a lot to say about your photo of the little girl and Taj, the giant Golden Bengal Tiger. If you can go back to that moment, do you think Taj was being playful with the little girl or do you believe there to be more to the emotion of the Taj?

DD: There is a sequence of photos, this is just the crescendo. There are two other photos taken prior to this shot, that shows the little girl with both hands on the partition, one shows Taj approaching the girl, his head down looking at his chest, and his paw just starting to be raised. The next shot shows Taj’s head still down and his paw at the same heigh at the little girl’s left hand. The last shot, of course shows Taj pressing his paw against the partition directly opposite of the little girl. So there is no doubt in my mind that he was being playful and fully understood that the little girl was no threat and needed to be treated with care.