An Auckland teacher has told how he fought to save his friend being mauled by a tiger at a Thai tourist resort.
Daniel Charman was horrified when the semi-tame tiger called Pancake attacked his friend Ruth Corlett, 45, as she posed for a picture with the animal at the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre.
The tiger, apparently trained so tourists can pat it, grabbed Mrs Corlett's leg and tried to drag her away.
Mr Charman said the tiger lunged at his friend and grabbed her leg.
Mrs Corlett grabbed his leg as the tiger tried to drag her off.
"I'm a big guy and I never thought I'd say it, but it's nice to be big," he told The Weekend Herald.
"My weight probably kept us both from being dragged away."
He said as the tiger locked its teeth around Mrs Corlett's leg he grabbed its head.
"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 said no one appeared to be doing anything when he acted but the trainer arrived and hit the tiger on the head, making it let go of Mrs Corlett's leg.
"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.
Mrs Corlett moved to Thailand in 2007 with her family to work for a charity-based organisation.
Mr Charman is a teacher at Auckland's Elim Christian College from which six children and a teacher lost their lives in a canyoning accident last year.
He said he could not believe that he could be involved in another danegrous situation so soon after the Mangatepopo tragedy.