Banham tiger celebrate their first birthday
Last updated: 19/10/2009 06:00:00
Giving one of the animal world’s most fearsome hunters a sponge birthday cake did not seem appropriate to keepers at Banham Zoo.
So on Saturday morning, one year old tiger cubs, Kuzma and Vasya, celebrated with a life size piñata in the shape of a deer, complete with antlers and special compartments where food was hidden for them to find.
The papier-mâché deer was given to the cubs, which are involved in an international breeding programme, as part of the zoo’s enrichment policy.
Mike Woolham, animal manager, said: “Enrichment is a very important part of the keepers’ duties and they work very hard to ensure that their animals are able to express a full range of natural behaviours. The idea of the piñata is that they will show off their hunting prowess, just as they perhaps would if they were in the wild; it helps preserve their natural instincts. “Obviously we can’t give them the real thing but we fully expect them to make short work of the ‘deer’.”
The cubs have been wowing visitors ever since their birth – the zoo’s decision to allow visitors to see CCTV footage from inside the cubs nest box allowed unprecedented coverage of the tiger cubs from day one.
They will eventually be sent to other zoos around the world to assist the efforts to conserve this endangered species, now thought to number in the region of 500 in the wild.