Genesis Wildlife Center introduces new tiger cubs
BY JEREMY G. BURTON
Published: Saturday, July 26, 2008 4:08 AM EDT
If the newest stars at the Genesis Wildlife Center at Nay Aug Park were feeling any effects of a cross-country trek, they didn’t seem to show it.
But two bottles of formula and some ground beef are apparently enough to conk a couple of tigers right out.
The Genesis sanctuary on Friday introduced two new tiger cubs, two months after the loss of 15-year-old Siberian tiger Reba, a park favorite who died in May.
The Indochinese tigers, a male and a female, arrived Thursday night from G.W. Exotic Animal Park, a conservancy and educational zoo in Wynnewood, Okla.
“Long drive there, long drive back, but it was well worth it,” volunteer Robin Perri said.
With the acquisition of two new cubs, some have harshly criticized the aging, outdated facilities as inadequate for such animals. Throughout the afternoon, though, visitors and families crowded in front of the enclosure for a glimpse at the cubs. Little kids grinned, and adults marveled.
“Oh my goodness gracious, isn’t he cute!” “Wave to him!”
Staffers said the cubs were doing well and enjoying the attention.
Linda Layland, of South Scranton, said her 6-year-old granddaughter Stephanie bawled over the death of Reba.
On Friday, Layland carried her 1?-year-old grandson Jeremy, who doesn’t make a habit of sitting still for long but spent a half-hour watching the two cubs feed and play.
“The kids need something like this,” she said.
For now, the 11- and 12-week-old tigers will be housed in an enclosure next to the 3,700-square-foot cougar pen, and they will rotate time outside until a partition can be built between the big cats. Eventually, they will all share the single space, possibly also with the wildlife center’s Siberian lynx.
Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty is expected to announce a contest to name the two cubs.
Many residents’ concerns stem from the rocky history of the former Nay Aug Zoo. Twice in five years in the 1980s, Parade magazine named it among the worst zoos nationwide. The facilities date from 1938, with renovations in the 1970s, 1990s and in 2003, when the Genesis sanctuary moved there. In 1981, two Humane Society officials called the zoo “archaic” and recommended it be closed, which it was in 1991.
Genesis is not by definition a zoo, and its volunteers feel like they are catching flak for a burden that isn’t theirs.
“All the things the public wants, I want, too. But it’s not my building,” Genesis director Margaret Miller said.
Miller said the new cubs don’t represent a change in mission or direction. As a rescue, it’s rare for the center to acquire young, healthy animals, but Miller said they are simply replacing what was lost.
Reba’s death cast a pall over the center. The staff was devastated; the cougars didn’t eat. Miller said the cubs bring an infusion of energy and excitement.
“They fit in here just perfectly,” she said.