Zoo hears patter of tiger feet

AS every parent knows, any newborn baby can prove tiring, time-consuming and something of a handful.But one dedicated mother has an even bigger task than most – coping with a trio of troublesome tiger cubs.

AS every parent knows, any newborn baby can prove tiring, time-consuming and something of a handful.

But one dedicated mother has an even bigger task than most - coping with a trio of troublesome tiger cubs.

And as the youngsters, born at Linton Zoo on Suffolk's border with Cambridgeshire, have just ventured outdoors for the first time, their inquisitiveness looks set only to increase - meaning mum Deja will have to keep her patience over the coming months.

The as-yet unnamed trio, of two brothers and a sister, were born to eight-year-old Deja and six-year-old Mirko at the end of June.


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And now the Amur tiger cubs, formerly known as Siberian tigers, have finally met the public, they are delighting visitors to the zoo near Haverhill with their playful antics.

“The cubs are very lively and are on the go all the time,” said Kim Simmons, co-owner of the family-run zoo. “At the moment they are finding everything quite interesting and it is hilarious to watch them.

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“They are very curious and investigate everything, and will play with logs and try and pull branches off trees. Their mum is having a rough time keeping them in order.

“Their play-fighting is fascinating and they get bolder every day. Deja will teach them an enormous amount over the coming months, but for now she tolerates being climbed on and chased - up to a point.

“We have not named them yet, but soon they will start developing personalities, and we should be able to pick names that fit and are appropriate to them.”

The cubs have now begun eating meat, but are still suckling to gain all the nutrients they require.

They will remain with Deja in East Anglia for around 10 to 14 months before moving to another home elsewhere in the world as part of an International Breeding Programme, supported by Linton.

“By the time they get to that sort of age, it is time for them to move on,” added Kim.

“They will be virtually adult-sized by the time they leave Linton, but we do not know yet where they will end up.

“Deja has been an absolutely wonderful mum, and has done everything herself. We haven't had to step in and help with rearing the cubs

“And tiger cubs do develop quite a following of fans, so the visitors here are absolutely loving it.”

The three cubs are part of a diminishing population of the world's biggest cat, whose numbers have dwindled from 100,000 around a century ago to less than 6,000 now.

Hunting and loss of habitat have been blamed for the reduction, with only five of the tiger's original eight sub-species now remaining.

But the dedicated team at Linton is doing all it can to protect the cats for future generations to enjoy.

As part of the International Breeding Programme, the zoo helps maintain a biodiverse population which may one day allow more of the animals to be reintroduced into the wild.

Education is also provided at the site, while Linton has also raised £3,000 to support the tiger, funding rangers and specialists to help protect the animals.

For more information about Linton Zoo and its opening hours, visit the website at www.lintonzoo.com

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