Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Huwaa Meet Her Baby Brothers

A cold front came in last night, but Cathay and her babies stayed outside the breeding centre, which we allowed for the first time. This morning I saw the babies well sheltered from the hauling wind between the tree trunk and the wooden shed, huddled around each other.

Huwaa, who had been waken up by our morning call, was trying her best to get us pay attention to her. The baby tigers saw that and walked wobbly out of their hidden spot towards her but stopped midway. Seeing that, Cathay went over and gently lifted each one up in her well-controlled mouth and moved the babies close to the fence where Huwaa was getting excited on the other side of the fence. She was so thrilled to see her baby brothers for the first time and she tried to reach out to them through the fence to play with them. Fortunately the metal mesh stopped her paws from getting through, as being still a child herself, she would have no idea how fragile her baby brothers are and how they could simply be played to death by her.

Cathay retreated into the wooden shelter and simply kept a watchful eye, secure in the knowledge that her little daughter could not accidentally hurt her babies due to the fence between them even though Huwaa has no idea how deadly her paws and teeth could actually be. The little cubs seemed to know the creature on the other side was their elder sister and tried to reach out to her. They stood up on their not-yet-so strong little legs in that attempt to get closer to Huwaa. Thus they played and played..

Cathay certainly couldn’t have found a better baby sitter than Huwaa who kept her increasingly feisty cubs entertained. I feel greatly relieved as well, as I have plans to put Huwaa back with both her mom and her baby brothers together a few months down the road so they can all learn hunting from mom Cathay at the same time.

After a while, Cathay decided that they had enough excitement and proceeded to gently gently carry the first baby back to the hiding spot. Except that the little cub wanted more of his elder sister and walked wobbly back to Huwaa while Cathay was carrying the second cub back to their shielded spot. But on hearing the cry of his little twin brother, the wandering cub went back into the comfort of his mom’s care and his brother’s embrace, where they dreamed their day dreams through the cold windy grey day...

The reason that Cathay and her two cubs were kept in the breeding center/quarantine camp during the first month of their births was to shield them from potential predators that could take their lives, as happened to another of Cathay’s cubs in Dec 2009. Now that they can walk, a bit wobbly albeit pretty speedy, I decided to let them move into Ripples camp where they can grow up in a natural environment.