Short Film Showcase: Amazing Slo-Mo: Rare Tiger Released Into Wild

Two filmmakers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare race against the clock to capture high-speed footage of a Siberian tiger being released into the wild. In the past, conventional cameras captured only a fleeting glimpse of a tiger as it left its enclosure to return to the wild. But the IFAW hopes high-speed, high-definition videos of these events will inspire people to help with tiger conservation. I spoke with Michael Booth, one of the filmmakers, about his piece How to Catch a Tiger.

Where did you come up with the idea for your documentary?

Siberian (aka Amur) tigers have been in trouble for many years. Their numbers are now down to around 350-450 in the wild, so groups like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) have been working with partner groups in the Russian Far East to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and rehabilitate orphaned tigers for release back into the wild.

Tiger releases had been filmed in the past, but all we could see was a split second of a blurry tiger crossing the screen—hardly imagery that would inspire people to help with tiger conservation. When we heard that another tiger (Zolushka) was going to be released, our goal was to capture the moment like no one had ever done in the past by using a special ultra-slow-motion camera.

How long have you worked with fellow filmmaker Brant Backlund?

Brant and I met more than ten years ago during our natural history filmmaking postgrad in New Zealand, but it wasn’t until 2012, when Brant joined our team at IFAW, that we started co-producing again. How to Catch a Tiger was one of our first collaborations for IFAW.

What do you hope will be the take-away for people after watching your piece?

I hope folks enjoy seeing Zolushka’s leap back to the wild and realize that Siberian tigers are in deep trouble. If we aren’t able to save the largest and most charismatic cat of all, what hope do we have for any other species? I can’t imagine having to explain to my kids why we as humans let things like this happen.

What was the most challenging part of this shoot?

How utterly unpredictable it was. We spent days planning and rehearsing how we would film the release, but you can’t anticipate the millions of things that can go wrong during the capture, transport, and release stages. More importantly, you can never tell a wild Siberian tiger what to do, so we were all at her mercy. There was something really powerful about how she ran into the forest, paused and looked back at us, let out an unbelievable roar, and took off.

Do you know how Zolushka is doing back in the wild?

Zolushka is doing great! Her tracking collar and dozens of camera traps positioned in her forest habitat are showing us that she has established a territory of her own and has been successful in hunting and living a perfectly normal life. It has now been just over a year and our ultimate hope is that she will be able to breed with the resident male tiger and have cubs of her own soon.

What are you working on next?

We’ve finished a feature length documentary called Huntwatch about the Canadian seal hunt. It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime film because we’re able to draw on 45 years of footage that IFAW has gathered. Most people are surprised to hear that this hunt still takes place, and the film really opens up a window into this issue.

We have several new and exciting projects coming up at IFAW involving everything from tigers and elephants in Bhutan to orphan wildlife rehabilitation efforts around the world, so stay tuned and remember to check out our website to find out more.



Learn more about the IFAW’s initiatives.

Follow IFAW on Twitter @action4ifaw.

See other films in the Short Film Showcase.


The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the web and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic’s mission of inspiring people to care about the planet. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of the National Geographic Society.

Know of a great short film that should be part of our Showcase? Email to submit a video for consideration.


  1. Sadauki
    January 19, 2015, 12:52 pm

    Wow, this is breathtaking!!! I have never watched anything more inspiring. Bravo and more grease to your elbows, this is a spiritual journey and endeavour!!!

  2. Rae
    St. Louis, Missouri
    January 17, 2015, 11:04 am

    Chills. Tears. Thank you.

  3. Lee Hammond
    January 17, 2015, 10:16 am

    Whilst I do appreciate the sentiment behind the idea of publicising this sort of thing, I get the impression the release was managed for the benefit of getting the right video/shot/photograph. The priority must always be the release and welfare of the animal. The activity of the crew should always be incidental. I’m sorry but the crate could’ve been opened on the tank without the need for the pulley system, cameras etc. Sorry guys. Good effort, but unacceptable.

  4. Vignesh
    January 17, 2015, 9:41 am

    Really Awesome & Inspiring Great effort done.Let Save Tiger

  5. Dhananjay
    January 16, 2015, 1:58 am

    Awesome shot …Hope this video inspires people to save this graceful animal.. Can anyone please please tell me the name of the music that starts at 1:58 … please please….

  6. Moses
    January 15, 2015, 2:06 pm

    one word……GREAT

  7. Brian
    January 15, 2015, 4:52 am

    please re-release this video with the 20 seconds of the gorgeous tiger getting released, the remaining 9 minutes and 40 seconds of these pretentious attention whoring filmmakers makes me ashamed to be human.

  8. Maria
    January 15, 2015, 3:30 am

    i love them!!! какие же они красивые!!!

  9. Skip
    Northern California
    January 14, 2015, 11:08 pm

    Stupendous, thank you. Do more.

  10. babu
    January 14, 2015, 1:34 am

    One of the best videos watched. Thank you for presenting this.

  11. xie
    Houghton, Michigan
    January 13, 2015, 9:28 pm

    Great work and amazing video!

  12. Jim Lambert
    United States
    January 13, 2015, 6:27 pm

    Why didn’t they back the camera up to get a wider shot? Not enough power cords?

  13. andreea
    January 13, 2015, 5:03 pm

    You are loved, God bless you all

  14. hn
    United States
    January 13, 2015, 4:48 pm

    agree with Erika Langley- who stated ; January 12, 9:48 pm
    Skip to minute 8.30 and see the tiger and spare yourself the insufferable, pretentious commentary of these photographers. You’re not the star, guys.

    how long was the tiger in the can before the footage taken? Put the animals first- they are not here for your video projects- National Graphic needs to be better than this. BTW I eat meat- have hunted – and fished.

  15. Arun
    January 13, 2015, 11:54 am

    Brilliant footage! Wish it lasted for longer time. Worth saving these magnificent animals.

  16. Prashanth
    January 13, 2015, 10:00 am
  17. stella mina
    January 13, 2015, 9:32 am

    All i can say… awesome! Good job! God bless.

  18. Jean
    January 13, 2015, 9:07 am

    Absolutely fantastic!

  19. Ellen
    Quebec Canada
    January 13, 2015, 9:02 am

    She is beautiful! The film makers got some amazing shots. I do appreciate the journey but not enough was made of the film captured of the tiger. Why were these shots not given more screen time? Why were many of them not full screen?

  20. suman prajapati
    United States
    January 13, 2015, 8:28 am

    Great shot of Tiger’s jump. It was torture to watch that guy talk about his camera, battery, his feelings and blabla.

  21. Ana
    Tbilisi, Georgia
    January 13, 2015, 5:42 am

    Really Awesome!!

  22. Patricia
    Kampala, Uganda.
    January 13, 2015, 4:21 am

    The joys of being free. The feeling priceless!

  23. Alex
    January 13, 2015, 4:16 am


  24. Abhilasha
    January 13, 2015, 3:01 am

    Now That is what’s called amazing. The magnanimity of the beautiful beast is applaud able. And it was perfect shot.

  25. Linda
    San Antonio, Texas
    January 13, 2015, 1:35 am

    Thank you, this was very interesting, and well worth the time to watch it. The emotions I felt while watching this tiger leap into a life it was meant for were deep. I hope this film helps in the endeavors made to save these animals.

  26. Erika Langley
    Seattle, WA
    January 12, 2015, 9:48 pm

    Skip to minute 8.30 and see the tiger and spare yourself the insufferable, pretentious commentary of these photographers. You’re not the star, guys!

  27. Rajpal Siwach
    sandy springs GA
    January 12, 2015, 9:44 pm

    Beauty claims freedom with furiosity

  28. Ysa
    January 12, 2015, 7:58 pm

    Just…. WOW!

  29. miguel punsoda
    Puerto Rico
    January 12, 2015, 7:41 pm

    Was this documentary about the tiger or the guys getting publicity?

    January 12, 2015, 7:16 pm


  31. Jeanine
    January 12, 2015, 6:21 pm

    For someone who’s invested in the survival of this creature to say that “the trip was a waste” just because they thought they didn’t catch the moment on camera is pretty superficial and dumb. You just released a tiger on the wild…come on. I mean the shots are cool and it’s nice to see the slow mo of course, but hey…the important thing is that the tiger can now live in the wild.

  32. Angela Oakley
    January 12, 2015, 5:41 pm

    I thought the video was amazing! Seeing the tigress coming out of the crate in slow motion enabled us to see the sheer joy on her face . She is truly beautiful. I hope she is happy and she remains free for the rest of her life!!

  33. angela oakley
    United Kingdom
    January 12, 2015, 5:32 pm

    I thought the video was amazing! Seeing the tiger coming out of the crate in slow motion enabled us to see the expression of sheer joy on the tigress face. She is truly beautiful!! I hope she finds happiness and stays free for the rest of her life!!

  34. Kati
    January 12, 2015, 4:41 pm

    Absolutely beautiful, very touching!

  35. Radhakrishnan
    January 12, 2015, 3:39 pm

    Amazing shots. All muscle and movement captured in slo-mo. Great job … all of a few seconds!

  36. Gabriel Severiano
    January 12, 2015, 3:19 pm

    Odio este tipo de “documentales” actuales. Donde, el 80% trata de uno o mas tipos que no cuentan como hacen las cosas, 15% de las cosas de estos tipos (sus cámaras, equipos de computo, equipo de traslado, y hasta sus botas, etc) y el 5% del animal en cuestión.

  37. Juca
    January 12, 2015, 3:08 pm

    Kinda intrigued if this is all about the tiger release or an ad about that freaking supercamera…

  38. Johnetta Tuggle
    United States
    January 12, 2015, 1:49 pm

    Love this film. So much work. Don’t let some of these comments disturb you. I appreciate what you are doing.

  39. chu sama
    January 12, 2015, 1:42 pm

    Weird video server you guys use :/
    Took me an hour to watch this video.
    in bits and pieces.

    this was slo-mo in buffer and i think i have gone bald now 😐

  40. joh
    January 12, 2015, 1:17 pm

    what has GOD got to do with it?

  41. Nitin Joshi
    January 12, 2015, 1:07 pm

    I myself being the tiger lover and natural history photographer, I can understand capturing the natural emotions of the tiger release. The use phantom camera justified, why this camera is made. 1500 fps is real good way to capture the emotion. Capturing and showing the ultra slow motion of the tiger release signifies the use of phantom cameras. Truly loved it.

  42. Deepak
    Delhi, India
    January 12, 2015, 12:13 pm

    Wow ! Incredible. Great Shot

  43. Touchakorn Sooksing
    Trat, Thailand
    January 12, 2015, 11:56 am

    This is a very good video. Thank you so much for your effort.

  44. Alayne
    January 12, 2015, 11:26 am

    Thank you. It’s all beautiful, meaningful and precious.

  45. Dr.Dulur Brahma
    Kokrajhar, Assam, India
    January 12, 2015, 10:35 am

    Wow!!! Truly Magnificent!!!

  46. Dr.Dulur Brahma
    Kokrajhar, Assam, India
    January 12, 2015, 10:32 am

    Wow! Truly Magnificent!!!!

  47. john remington
    January 12, 2015, 9:52 am

    Not up to Nat Geo’s standards I’m afraid. Bad camera work.

  48. Joe
    January 12, 2015, 9:35 am

    I had no idea that a tiger could be filmed in slow motion. Now I know that a tiger can be filmed in slow motion.

    I have learned something extraordinary.

  49. Gallina Fiedler
    January 12, 2015, 8:49 am

    Wow first let me say thank you for sharing and releasing such a gift back into his natural habitat! Second it brought tears to my eyes….I wish I could explain more how touched my heart and soul is…..I feel humbled to know how much you two care! Maybe dreams do come true….maybe love is real if I can believe I deserve….lol….Anyways the look on his face will be forever in my heart…….freedom

  50. Shabnam
    January 12, 2015, 8:47 am

    It’s a beautiful video, Great efforts guys.

  51. Neo
    Pearl City, HI
    January 12, 2015, 8:25 am

    Even with the high speed cameras, she’s still a blur. crazy.

  52. febin thomas
    January 12, 2015, 8:24 am

    most amazing video i have ever seen..ur work is outstanding..

  53. Nilesh Jain
    Chennai, India.
    January 12, 2015, 7:44 am

    Most Amazing Slow motion I have ever seen.But still its so sad to know that it is endangered Species which is going to get extinct because the wild things done by Human Beings (Poaching and killing).
    I would request you wildlife film makers to spread the awareness of it.

  54. MrsWelton
    East Chester, Nova Scotia, Canada
    January 12, 2015, 6:43 am

    This is SO awesome! Yet it makes me sad at the same time, the knowledge that there are so few tigers left in the world. :'(

  55. Paprika
    January 12, 2015, 6:43 am

    I would like to get my 10 minutes back!!! Nice thing You let the tiger back in the wild life but the video its one of worst I have ever watch! Just one shot and its not that great any way. I don’t care for Yours emotion guys and You have to learn how to use camera. I think You need to find new tiger and make video again with some proper shots!!!

  56. Fiatagata Memea
    Kahuku, Hawai'i
    January 12, 2015, 5:58 am

    It was breathtaking to watch the release of this magnificent animal, how ever, sad it’s survival status. My resources are limited to help, but I can forward your documentation, in hopes that those with the means will help. Thanks for the work that you do!

  57. ameed
    January 12, 2015, 3:54 am


  58. Tanja Preiksaitis
    January 12, 2015, 3:12 am

    Outstanding. The slow motion shot of her coming out of the crate clearly defined the expression of happiness she felt to be free.

  59. Alice Bacus
    January 12, 2015, 3:01 am

    Good video

  60. Rai Bose
    January 12, 2015, 2:53 am

    As close as I can ever get to this majestic animal! Thank you for taking so much effort… It was totally worth it! 🙂

  61. John sauls
    January 12, 2015, 2:13 am

    Video a dog, jus coming out of the water shaking the water off it hair.

  62. User
    January 12, 2015, 2:06 am


  63. James Charleton
    January 12, 2015, 2:01 am

    “Oh My God…” Another bloated bit of footage. This could have been 30 seconds long and would have been at least as interesting.

  64. Sarah Chilton
    seal beach, ca
    January 12, 2015, 1:59 am

    I am beyond believe of the sacrifice everyone would take for these precious and majestic animals. I’m truly in tears and heart ache for these and ALL wild creatures. I have a calling for this but my husband is wary

  65. Sarah Chilton
    seal beach, ca
    January 12, 2015, 1:56 am

    I am beyond believe of the sacrifice everyone would take for these precious and majestic animals. I’m truly in tears and heart ache for these and ALL wild creatures. I have a calling for this but my husband is wary

  66. Janice Coombes
    Grande Prairie Alta Canada
    January 12, 2015, 12:33 am

    Marvelous shot slow motion

  67. Sandy Brown Jensen
    Eugene, Oregon
    January 8, 2015, 11:50 pm

    Wow! I enjoyed the drama of the build up –camera, trip, complications, and then the payoff–great slo mo leaps of the freed tiger. But the best moment was hearing her snarl and getting that atavistic chill!
    Thanks for a ggreat job!

  68. Alicia
    Dallas, Texas
    January 6, 2015, 6:52 pm

    Nature in all it’s glory is truly a sight to behold! I’m in awe of these amazing creatures & those that are helping to save them. I hope that humanity wakes up in time to realize the impact we are having on our planet & all those that occupy it.