December 13 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, August 31, 2013
The beaming smiles on children’s faces at Banham Zoo said it all.
Taking playful swipes at their mother’s tail and lazing in the sun, the zoo’s two new arrivals have already captured people’s hearts.
At just 11 weeks old, the baby girls are already earning their stripes and are happily bounding around their enclosure.
And Amur tiger Sveta, five, is relishing her role as a new mum.
Mike Woolham, animal manager at the zoo, said the cubs had attracted thousands of visitors.
“We are looking forward to watching them develop. We all have fond memories of our last tiger cubs –including Kuzma [the new cubs’ father] – five or six years ago.
“They had their first vaccination two weeks ago and the vet examined them.
“They are both healthy and quite feisty.”
The cubs will have another vaccination next week and that will be the last time the keeper and vet will handle them.
“We don’t want to tame them,” Mr Woolham said. “Mum will be safely locked away next door eating a big piece of meat.”
The cubs are now enjoying solid food and have been eating rabbit and beef. “Rabbit is really good because it has small bones in it which they can crunch and it is a good source of calcium for them.
“They can get possessive about certain bits, though. They carry a rabbit’s paw around with them like a trophy.”
And the mischievous pair also try and steal food from their dad, who shows them who is boss by pinning his ears back and growling softly.
And with endless energy, the sisters spend most of their day playing.
“When you see them outside in the enclosure, they are just like kittens,” Mr Wooldham said. “The platform is a respite for dad because he can climb all the way to the top and the cubs can’t.
“They spend a lot of time together. Sveta and Kuzma have a very strong bond and she loves to be with him. They are very happy together.”
Staff at the zoo watched their birth via a CCTV link and an external monitor was installed a few days later so visitors could share their progression.