Tiger mom defies odds to save lifeless cub – heartwarming bond captures hearts

Tigers are truly awe-inspiring creatures. Known for their immense strength, aggression, and hunting skills, they are usually admired from a distance. However, observing tigers interacting with their cubs reveals a whole new side to these majestic animals. They can be caring, devoted, and even gentle. With so many tiger subspecies on the brink of extinction, understanding and appreciating them has never been more important. In a heartwarming video that recently resurfaced, one tiger mother’s instincts prevailed when she gave birth to twin cubs, one of whom was stillborn.

“She’s an incredible mom, just watch.”

The video showcases the remarkable journey of Kaitlyn, a critically endangered Sumatran tiger, as she gives birth to a litter of cubs at Australia Zoo in 2014. Every cub born to Kaitlyn’s subspecies is crucial for their survival, especially when other tiger subspecies like the Balinese and Javanese tigers have already gone extinct.

Kaitlyn is alone in a room, monitored by experts through a TV screen, allowing her the privacy she needs to deliver her offspring. As the first cub emerges, Kaitlyn instinctively begins to lick it, a behavior that stimulates the baby’s breathing, according to an animal expert. However, the cub appears lifeless, leaving the zookeepers on edge. Undeterred, Kaitlyn continues to gently lick the cub’s face, instinctively clearing any liquids from its airways and mouth. After two tense minutes, the cub finally gasps for air, although it struggles to breathe properly at first. Moments later, much to everyone’s relief, the baby starts to take regular breaths.

“Good girl! She did so well,” says Giles Clark, head of Australia Zoo’s tiger department, who oversaw the birth. Another expert, watching in awe, exclaims, “She’s an incredible mom, just watch” as the baby lets out a tiny squeal that takes the first-time mom by surprise. The arrival of the second cub presents a stark contrast to its twin, as it kicks and yelps immediately. These two cubs, named Clarence and Hunter, brought immense joy to Kaitlyn and the staff of Australia Zoo.

In 2016, Kaitlyn gave birth to another set of twins, a healthy male and female named Scout and Delilah. Clark expresses his excitement, stating, “We’re so thrilled about Kaitlyn’s brand new cubs. With Kaitlyn, as with all of our tigers, we have a strong bond—or rather, a friendship—that enables us to interact with them intimately.”

“We’ve already started handling these cubs while Kaitlyn is present, and this friendship will allow us to continue interacting with them just like we do with other tigers at the zoo. We are completely over the moon to have these two new additions, and the whole team is excited—you just can’t help but fall in love with them.”

These cubs symbolize hope for the ongoing global breeding program dedicated to the survival of Sumatran tigers. Clark explains their genetic significance, saying, “These cubs are crucial from a genetic standpoint because their mother, Kaitlyn, is a new addition to the breeding program. Her bloodline is unique, and she has passed on this valuable genetic legacy to her cubs.”

The Struggle to Save a Critically Endangered Tiger Subspecies

Once inhabiting various areas in Indonesia’s Sunda Islands, Sumatran tigers are now on the verge of extinction, with fewer than 400 individuals left. They can only be found in protected lands in Sumatra. As the smallest subspecies of tigers, they grow up to eight feet in length and weigh between 165 and 300 pounds. They possess darker orange fur and stripes that are closer together. Sumatran tigers are carnivores, hunting a wide range of animals, including deer, boars, fish, tapirs, monkeys, and lizards. Unfortunately, finding enough food has become a struggle for these magnificent creatures.

Habitat loss and poaching pose significant threats to Sumatran tigers. Deforestation has resulted in a decrease in prey, while palm oil plantations have encroached upon their natural habitats. Poachers target tigers for their teeth, which are used to make jewelry, fur for furniture, and bones for tiger bone wine, among other high-status products. As a result, Sumatran tigers are now confined to national parks and protected areas. Clark warns, “There is a real possibility that this incredible species could become extinct in our lifetime. Cubs like these are our insurance policy against the disappearance of tigers altogether.”

In 2014, Indonesia took a significant step to protect tigers by making poaching illegal, with religious leaders in the country showing their spiritual opposition to such acts. Alongside these conservation efforts, developmental programs aim to support local communities, ensuring that they don’t resort to poaching to feed their families. Additionally, captive breeding programs in countries like Australia are helping to further understand this subspecies and aid in their reproduction.


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