Chance to name Siberian tiger cubs
24 December 2008 07:06
They may look cute and cuddly – but these adorable tiger cubs with sharp teeth and claws are already proving a real handful for their devoted mum.
Born at Banham Zoo nine weeks ago, the young Amur or Siberian tigers belong to an endangered species with only between 450 and 500 left in the wild.
Their mother, Malyshka is the fourth most important female in the European captive breeding programme which is helping to ensure tigers do survive the ravages of mankind, such as illegal poaching and destruction of their habitat.
The zoo has now teamed up with the EDP to offer readers and visitors to our EDP24 website the chance to name the cubs, and win a family season ticket to visit the zoo in coming months and watch them grow up.
Mike Woolham, the zoo’s animal manager, said: “As you can imagine, nine week old tiger cubs are little demons. They are monsters for playing and their mother is the climbing frame. They bite her tail and pull on her ears. She has the patience of a saint – she’s a lovely mother.
“Their temperament is like that of a feral cat and that is what we want. I am not a huge fan of hand rearing, parent rearing is always so much better and they are typical tigers with claws. Wearing a pair of gloves is one thing but if they latch onto your trouser leg you are in big trouble!”
During a recent health check, staff were able to discover that the cubs were both males so the search has now started for suitable names.
Both the zoo’s adult Amur tigers, Mischa and Malyshka have traditional Russian names, meaning Little bear/fighter and Little one, and the keepers are keen to follow this tradition with their offspring.
“Sometimes the keepers say ‘Ah, I have thought of a great name for such and such’ and it’s sorted. But this time they haven’t,” added Mr Woolham, who said the only real difference between the cubs is that one has a gargantuan appetite.
From the age of four weeks they started taking their first tentative steps outside the nursery box, often being gathered up and returned by their mother – not usually for very long as their inquisitiveness got the better of them. But they are still too young to be allowed out into the main outdoor enclosure.
Banham Zoo is the only zoo in the UK to have an official recommendation from the studbook to breed Amur tigers in 2008.
A spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund said captive breeding can make a valuable contribution, and in some situations the reintroduction of captive species can be useful. But the primary focus has to be in-situ conservation.
There is a global population of 4,000 tigers and the WWF is working in Russia and China to protect their habitat, check poaching and crack down on the illegal trade in their body parts.
The competition to name the cubs is open to people aged 18 and over. The two winners will receive a family season ticket for two adults and two children, valid for one year. Entries can be submitted on-line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or posted to Marketing Department, Tiger Cub Competition, Banham Zoo, Kenninghall Road, NR16 2HE. The deadline for entries is January 5.