Meet Callie, tiger toddler
September 5, 2009
The Amur tiger cub that recently was named Callie will be placed in the zoo’s cat-holding building and in exhibit for public view within several months, according to Great Plains Zoo president and CEO Elizabeth Whealy.
Callie, who now weighs more than 10 pounds, is doing well and growing as expected. “She is absolutely on track – eating well, exploring, being a true toddler, getting all sorts of sensations,” Whealy said. Callie is in the zoo’s vet building, where she is monitored, fed and played with by zookeepers.
The tiger’s namesake, 10-year-old Callie Burris, saw the tiger cub for the first time Friday. Burris’ mother, Dr. Kathryn Florio, won the right to name the cub through an auction in July at the zoo’s Jungle Jubilee fundraiser.
Burris, a fifth-grade student at the Challenge Center at Garfield Elementary School, peered through the glass at the vet building, looking excitedly at the cub. “She’s just so cute,” Burris said. Burris spent Friday morning helping feed animals and touring the zoo as a zookeeper for a day. She said the cub seemed small compared to the tigers she saw earlier. “The other tigers I saw were up to here,” she said, pointing to her shoulder.
Florio, a member of the Zoological Society of Sioux Falls board of directors, said she and her husband, Dr. Larry Burris, instantly decided on the name choice. “This cub is pretty special. Our daughter is pretty special. We wanted to do this in honor of her,” she said.
Burris is looking forward to watching the cub grow up, and she plans to visit her at the zoo at least monthly. “It’s so surprising to have an animal named for you. It will be interesting to see how she grows up,” she said.
There are only 133 Amur tigers in captivity in Association of Zoos and Aquarium accredited zoos in the country. Callie is one of only four surviving Amur tiger cubs born in U.S. zoos this year.
Whealy said the tiger has garnered a wide following.
“People have connected with her so far. People have been captivated by her story,” Whealy said.
Callie is the lone surviving cub of a litter of six.
Age: 7 weeks old (born July 19)
Weight: Almost 10 pounds
What she eats: A formula called “slurry,” which includes turkey baby food
How much she eats: 8 ounces of formula, four times per day