By Crystal Ja
May 29, 2008 08:00am
A NEW adoptee from Perth Zoo, six-week-old Sumatran tiger cub Sali, has enjoyed two play dates at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.
The first was an introduction to Mohan, a 13-year-old Bengal tiger considered the “dad” of Tiger Island for fathering two litters and taking babysitting duties in his stride.
But tiny Sali seemed to prefer her second `meeting’, with a new SpongeBob SquarePants plush toy, having already demolished her first with her razor sharp claws and teeth.
The 4.5kg cub was today welcomed as the newest addition at Dreamworld, having arrived from Perth 12 days ago.
She is among the last survivors of a gravely endangered species, with only 300 to 400 Sumatran tigers estimated to be still surviving in the wild.
Her “playdate” with Mohan today was her first introduction to another tiger at the theme park, part of a training program to hone her interaction with other cats.
Sali, which means “steadfast” in Indonesian, had a rough start to life, having been cruelly rejected by her mother despite being the lone survivor of a litter of four.
Dreamworld adopted Sali to be hand-reared and also allow her more access to her fellow tigers.
She took to the meeting with aplomb, sprinting towards the 185kg Mohan at first chance to touch noses and launch a few playful swipes at his massive legs.
Handler Patrick Martin-Vegue said they were set to introduce Sali to other cats, including 13-month-old Sumatran cub sisters, Indah and Rahni, over the coming weeks.
He said the energetic Sali, who eats half a cup of horse meat plus regular bottles of formula each day, had put on two kilograms since her arrival.
“She’s a spunky little thing, she’s done really well,” he said.
“She’s just now learning the basics of what she can and can’t do, but she’s really fearless of any of us, which is a really good trait.”