Zoya and Sam: an unlikely friendship
Story By: Andy Koen
Seeing a baby tiger cub cuddled next to the family dog, while cute, may seem a little unusual. But don’t tell that to Zoya, the 8 week old Amur tiger cub at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. During the earliest weeks of her life, Zoya became close friends with an Australian Shepard named Sam.
When she was just hours old, Zoya’s mother Helga lost interest in her cub and zookeepers realized they would have to intervene to save her. As part of the hand-rearing process, one of the keepers took Zoya home to meet Sam. The two hit it off well. In fact, Sam surprised the keepers by showing a nurturing and attentive attitude to the little tiger.
Zoya’s canine upbringing may explain her fondness for dog chew toys. Tracy Leeds, director of animal collections for the zoo says Zoya enjoys pawing at and chewing on the hard rubber toys.
“Mostly she plays with dog toys, you know that you can go and get at Petsmart or whatever, the really tough ones, and she got some new ones this morning that she’s really enjoying,” Leeds Said.
Thanks to steady diet of six bottles kitten milk replacement, Zoya has grown to a healthy 14 pounds. She is now big enough to spend limited amounts of time in the public eye. She can be seen from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. weather permitting, in a temporary home at the zoo’s Monkey Pavilion.