Mendon zoo eyes new tiger cubs
Southwick’s ready for April 12 opening
Thursday, April 10, 2008
MENDON? As zookeepers and maintenance crews work with frenzied passion to put finishing touches on new attractions for an April 12 season opening at Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, the Brewer family, who own and operate New England’s largest zoo, is busy readying the venue’s hundreds of exotic mammals, rare birds and reptiles.
These responsibilities include preparing for new arrivals, which this season includes a pair of lovable Bengal tiger cubs.
Betsey Brewer recently took delivery of the first of the young felines, a very energetic orange and black striped Tabby Bengal tiger cub which met her new caregiver as she peered through the door of a carrier shipping crate.
The youngster’s littermate sister, a rare white tiger cub, still at an Arizona zoo, will rejoin her sibling April 12 on the official opening day at Southwick’s. While the young felines remain in cub stage, they will be placed in a prominent temporary holding area to provide visitors maximum up-close viewing.
When they reach maturity, they will move to the zoo’s rather elaborate natural habitat replication for the tigers. In this case, at Southwick’s these tigers will be offered amenities which include a fresh water wading pool at the base of a spring-fed towering waterfall, all of which includes an ample clear viewing area for visitors.
The new arrivals are part of a replenishment move brought about by the deaths of Niko, a Tabby, who died about 18 months ago, and also the more recent death of Assam, a large white tiger. Each lived a normal lifespan for tigers and succumbed to old age.
Justine Brewer, Southwick’s Zoo’s president, and daughter of Justin Southwick, who in 1963 founded today’s sprawling zoo, lamented the loss of both Niko and Assam, but feels certain that the new arrivals will provide continuity to the tiger-viewing tradition at the zoo.
Also included on the 200 acres of exhibits is Earth Ltd., an independent nonprofit education arm of the zoo operation. Betsey Brewer serves as its executive director.
Demonstrations are offered daily so that visitors can gain a greater appreciation of the natural beauty of each creature, respect the role that animals play in the world, and instill a desire to learn yet more about them.
More information is available at www.southwickszoo.com.
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