Thursday, 17 December 2009

327 Finally Became Dad!

I was exhausted but not able to fall asleep, watching the clock reaching 2am, 3am in the hotel room in Johannesburg. During dinner with Consul General of Johannesburg and other friends, I talked about Cathay being probably pregnant and if so, might be giving birth any time. Now lying in bed, I somehow had the premonition that Cathay may have already given birth and I was counting the hours so I could call our team at Laohu to find out first thing in the morning.
I only fell asleep around 7am in the morning and the first email I saw coming in when I woke up at 10am, told me that baby tiger cry was heard from the trees in Cathay's camp in the late afternoon the previous day ( Dec 16 , 2009) and Cathay had indeed given birth!
After we had almost all given up on his male power, 327 - this city born and city groomed stud, has now vindicated himself and become a father!
327 came a long way. A few months after he arrived at Laohu, we had him to make acquintainces with the two ladies. But he was terrified of Cathay and somehow indifferent to Madonna. We somewhat lost hope. Then we discovered one of his testicles is much smaller than normal, in fact almost invisible! Although we are told this should not stop him from being able to mate or being fertile, but coupled with the fact he did not seem to have much interests in the females, it cast doubt on his abilities nevertheless.
Eventually I had him moved out of the breeding centre and he settled in the 3 ha "grass camp". Initially he would come to greet whatever humans come his way, like he used to do in the breeding centre, and trotting along the fence. After a while he seemed to become indifferent to humans and only came to greet if he was hungry. I was delighted by his change of attitude-perhaps he had some hope!
After separating Cathay from her sons JenB and Coco in August 2008, I was hoping she would come into oestrus in a few months but she kept us waiting and waiting. By Feb this year when she still had not come into oestrus, I decided to rotate her between TigerWoods and 327 and let her spend some time with 327. In the wild, a male tiger could reign his territory for a while but get pushed out by younger and stronger new male, so the tigresses in a male's territory have access to new stud and thus new genetic materials every few years. This also keeps the tigresses' interests in mating and breeding strong.
It came as a nice surprise that the meeting between 327 and Cathay was friendly, unlike their previous encounters. It was further a pleasant shock when 327 and Cathay mated in June this year. I was on the one hand hopeful and on the other hand uncertain about Cathay getting pregnant from 327, and I was indeed terribly disappointed when she came back into oestrus the tenth week after she had mated with 327 - proving he was not able to impregnate her.
Against the advice of others and heeding the traditional Chinese wisdom of "three opportunities", she was allowed to meet 327 when she came back into oestrus at the end of August and demanded being let in with him, even though she was with TigerWoods at that time. What followed after is history. A heated three-day love fest between the two resulted in 327 becoming a Dad, at the age of seven years.

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