Siberian descendants on African soil

Acting Head of Joburg Zoo, Oscar van Heerden speaks to the audience about the zoo.

New little roars reverberated through the Johannesburg Zoo when they welcomed four Siberian tiger cubs.

The litter of two females and two males were a sight to behold as they played around in their enclosure. Their mother, three-year-old Ganeshee, watched on and played with her cubs, keeping media guests enthralled.

Carnivore curator, Agnes Maluleke said these are the first tiger cubs to be born at the zoo in the 13 years she has been there. She said they are all equally happy and healthy. “Though their mother is a first-time mom, she has done exceptionally well at raising her cubs.”

She said that Ganeshee is teaching her cubs to be real tigers – as young as they might be, they are as wild as tigers should be. However, she explained that the tigers cannot hunt as they are not allowed to feed them wild prey. Though she firmly believes that if they were to give them live prey, they would not hesitate to kill and feed themselves.

Acting head of Johannesburg Zoo, Dr Oscar van Heerden said the zoo strives to develop and obtain open green spaces across the city. “In our 112-year history, the zoo has seen many animals come and go. In my time here, I have had to say goodbye to many animals.”

He recalled two polar bears – the only two bears on the African continent, Geebee and Wang, who died at the zoo – that stole his heart. They lived for 29 years and that is quite long for polar bears.

He expressed how excited the zoo was to have these four adorable newcomers. When they were born back in April, the cubs were completely blind and were grey. Van Heerden added that the four-month-old cubs would be introduced to the public later in the month.

He explained that the cubs would only be kept at the zoo until they are a year old. He said this is because there already is a group of young tigers who will be able to produce more offspring.

“To have four of these highly endangered animals born in Johannesburg is just amazing.”

The cubs do not have names yet, but to make the public feel like they are part of the cubs’ lives, the zoo plans to leave the naming up to the public via their Facebook page. The submissions will be open from 19 September to end October.

Also read: Zoo Lake festival yet another success

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Neo Phashe

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