Fans of AMC’s hit zombie TV series The Walking Dead remain divided over the series’ direction following the shocking payoff to season 6′ cliffhanger ending and the show’s season 7 storyline – which once again finds the main cast of survivors facing off against post-apocalyptic communities ruled by charismatic leader figures. However, one thing many seem to agree on is wanting to see more of Shiva, the loyal pet tiger of enigmatic figure King Ezekiel.

While meant to portray an actual, still-living former zoo animal rescued by Ezekiel and now loyal to him, Shiva’s performance in the TV version of The Walking Dead is created through a combination of animatronic puppeteering effects and CGI – rather than asking actors to physically interact with a real live tiger on set. A newly-released photo showing Ezekiel and Shiva together only calls further attention to the “TV magic” behind the latter.

The image, shared on social media by King Ezekiel’s actor Khary Payton (see below), shows the actor posing for an offhand “selfie” style shot with his feline co-star – or, rather, what appears to be one of the multiple puppet heads used to bring the animal to life on The Walking Dead TV show.

While the shot does not outwardly indicate any specific detail of the series or either character’s role therein, Walking Dead fans are widely taking it as confirmation that the actor has been shooting more scenes for upcoming episodes that will feature interactions with the tiger character. In the series (and in the cult-hit comic books on which it is based) Shiva’s presence is integral to helping the “King” maintain the larger than life mystique he uses to enforce order on his post-apocalyptic community; though she is in reality an ordinary zoo tiger, loyal to Ezekiel because he once rescued her and repaired her injured leg.

Whether Shiva will be shown to take any other, more substantive role in upcoming episodes remains to be seen. In the original Walking Dead comic books, she eventually takes part in battles against both human and zombie enemies – though the series has diverged from the events of the source material on multiple occasions in the past. It is unknown how much of Shiva’s role will be either narrowed or expanded based on the benefits and/or drawbacks of shooting with a special-effects creation rather than a trained animal (which may look more realistic but can be unpredictable).

The Walking Dead continues with The Rock in the Road’ on February 12th, 2017.

Source: Khary Payton

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