Raising Tiger Cubs

Raising Cubs - Page 1&2: Mortality & General Safety | 3,4&5: Learning To Hunt

How tiger cubs learn to hunt (Stage 2):

After a time the mother cripples a kill and the youngsters help finish off the animal. An adult tiger kills seconds, but inefficient cubs may take a considerable period to complete the act. They may play with the prey and bite at it, but not in a manner which would cause death. The tigress might then open up the animal so the flesh is exposed, at which point the cubs can start to feed. Though disabled, the unfortunate meal may still be alive.

On the other hand, those first bumbling attempts of cubs to help their mother sometimes results in prey escaping where it usually wouldn't have.

Tigresses always eat last, unlike with lions where cubs are made to wait until the adults are finished before being allowed to chew at the carcass. It is not rare for lion cubs to die of starvation as a result of this practice.

Food deprivation tests with tigresses:

Tests have been carried out using captive tigresses. During one of these cubs were fed in a separate enclosure from their mother. The tigress could see both cubs and food, but remained unfed herself.

On the fifth day cubs were offered food in the enclosure with their mother. One might expect the tigress to be ravenous and grab her share of food, yet even after that period of starvation, the tigress allowed her cubs to feed first. Other experiments elsewhere have produced similar results.

This type of test was also carried out in the wild.

Tiger baiting, a horribly cruel process by which a live animal is staked out to attract tigers is now illegal in India. It encourages the cats to hang around human settlements; not only is this a risk to the villagers, but domestic livestock is sometimes taken and tigers killed.

Nearly thirty years ago, well prior to the law changes regarding tiger baiting, it was observed that when a tigress with cubs visited a bait she allowed her cubs both to make the kill, and to eat first. Her eating was governed entirely by the reaction of the cubs; any complaint from them once she started to dine caused her withdrawal.

(Continued Page 5)

Raising Cubs - Page 1&2: Mortality & General Safety | 3,4&5: Learning To Hunt

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Photography With Thanks To Kevin Borden
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