Legend goes that the tiger became the King of Animals at the very beginning due to its fame of suppressing the beasts. At that time, all the animals in the mountains immediately hid away whenever they saw the tiger, so the tiger was proud but lonely. The monkey and the tiger were neighbors and they called each other brother; when the tiger went out, the monkey would govern the animals temporarily. Due to the fear to the tiger, the animals had to listen to the order of the monkey. This is the origin of the Chinese saying "the monkey reigns in the mountains when the tiger is not there".
One day, the tiger fell into a hunter's net unfortunately and could not get out despite the struggling. At this time, the monkey appeared and the tiger shouted for help. The monkey hurriedly climbed up the tree, unfastened the net rope and saved the tiger.
After getting out of danger, the tiger kept saying thanks to the monkey but went over in its mind: "I am the King of Animals but I fell into a hunter's trap and was saved by the monkey. If it publicizes the news, no one will listen to me anymore. Maybe I have to kill the monkey." But later the tiger thought: "I am already a loner. If I kill the monkey, I will have no friend. Who will help me if I am in danger again? What's more, the monkey fears me and it will never disclose today's thing."
Then, the tiger told the monkey that it would pay back for today's life-saving grace in the future; if the monkey had any troubles, the tiger would fully repay. The monkey, of course, said nothing about the tiger's dangerous experience to save the tiger king's face. After that, the relationship between them was even better.
Many years later, the Jade Emperor began to choose the Chinese zodiac signs. As the king of animals, the tiger was selected in the nature of things. The monkey also wanted to be selected, so it asked the tiger to plead for it. To repay the monkey, the tiger had to try its best to help the monkey and it told the Jade Emperor that the monkey was the cleverest animal and helped it to govern the animals when it went out. As a result, the Jade Emperor decreed to list the monkey into the Chinese zodiac signs.
The monkey was listed and the tiger repaid the favor. However, the tiger king was unhappy for being paralleled with the monkey which had no outstanding skill in the Chinese zodiac signs. So, the two broke up and the animals no longer feared the monkey. Of course, the saying "the monkey reigns in the mountains when the tiger is not there" has the irony meaning today.
Stories of Other Zodiac Animals: