Who or what is “Tigerente” and why I am carrying this “thing” with me?
How it began
Like almost every German kid I grew up with the books of Janosch and especially the famous book “Oh, the beautiful Panama” (German: Oh, wie schön ist Panama). I put Panama on my lifetime bucket list and finally got to visit this beautiful country during a backpacking trip through Costa Rica and Panama. As it was a solo backpacking trip, I decided to take the little wooden talisman with me and take pictures.
This is how it all began. Now it is my all-time compañero when I’m traveling.
The Tigerente (lit., tiger duck) is a children’s book character created by the German artist and author Janosch. It is a little wooden toy duck on wheels, striped black on yellow, that is pulled around on a string by various characters of Janosch’s books. It never has a line of dialogue, but still has become by far the most popular figure ever created by the author. The Tigerente has since appeared on a wide range of products including posters, postcards, high school art projects, buttons, mugs, socks, umbrellas, cutlery and nearly every item of children’s furniture imaginable, and has been the namesake and mascot of the German TV show Tigerenten Club, all without ever uttering a single line. In the English translation of the book “The trip to Panama” the Tigerente is actually referred to as ‘tiger duck’. The story has been made into a contemporary opera “Oh, the beautiful Panama” by Lin Wang. The opera was premiered at Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2013 and was a sold-out event.