Orphaned tiger cubs are stars in China zoo

Thanks to nurturing zookeeper, orphaned cubs gain strength as well as superstar status.

There is an infant asylum at Hangzhou Safari Park in East China's Zhejiang province, where live young animals abandoned by their mothers after birth. People have nicknamed it the "animal orphanage".

Some female animals at the wildlife park have little experience with parental care of a litter. If the zookeepers turn a blind eye to the newborns, these fragile lives could perish.

Among the abandoned animal babies, tiger and lion cubs account for a high proportion.

Tang Xiuzhen, a zookeeper at the park, takes care of about 10 Siberian tiger cubs every year.

Several months ago, a Siberian tiger gave birth to a pair of twin sisters, whose names are Meng Meng and Ying Ying. Tang has been taking care of them at the orphanage since then.

A newly born tiger cub weighs about 1 kilogram. Every day, Tang checks the cubs' weights, makes other physical examinations, and observes their growth.

Tiger cubs cannot be fed cow milk, so it is customary for zookeepers to look for a female dog to be the surrogate mother.

For the Siberian tiger twins, the dog mother they found was docile and had abundant milk. In the first two months after their birth, the cubs needed to be fed every four hours.

Thanks to their dog mother, they grew up gradually. Now they are 4 months old. Their favourite play activity is fighting with each other.

Meng Meng and Ying Ying are the superstars at the park. Many tourists travel there just to get a look at them. The twin sisters have different personalities, too. Meng Meng is stronger and more outgoing than Ying Ying.

Recently, Meng Meng took a chance and successfully escaped from the orphanage. But shortly afterward, she became frightened by a pony at the adjacent stable. The young tiger did not dare to run, but stood transfixed with fear until the zookeepers found her.

More about
animal welfare