In a zoo in California, a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet
tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the
cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, they died shortly
after birth. The mother tiger after recovering from the delivery,
suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine... [via snopes]
The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to
fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could
surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve. After
checking with many other zoos across the country, The depressing news
was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the
The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in
a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the
care of a different species. The only "orphans" that could be found
quickly, were a litter of wiener pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped
the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger.
Would they become cubs or pork chops?????????????
Take a look ...
Origins: As often happens, this appears to be a case where someone came across
some unusual photos with no explanatory context, so the viewer decided to make up
his own background story. The pictures are real, but the accompanying explanation
about a mother tiger in California being given piglets to ease her through a depression
stemming from the loss of her own cubs is fiction.
The images displayed above were taken in 2004 at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi,
Thailand. Although the Sriracha Tiger Zoo hosts one of the world's most successful
tiger breeding programs, unlike most western zoos it also offers circus- and
carnival-like shows, exhibits, and interactions, including (as evidenced here) the
mixture of adults and young of quite different species in the same enclosures. As
described by the AWI Quarterly, a publication of the Animal Welfare Institute:
The Sriracha Tiger Zoo, an hour outside of Bangkok, Thailand, is truly an amazing
place. Boasting more than 400 tigers, a handful of Asian elephants, piles of
crocodiles, camels, snakes and other exotic animals, the zoo has some intriguing,
yet troubling exhibits.
In one glass room, a farrowing crate entombed a pig who, lying on her side,
nourished both her piglets and tiger cubs. Across the hall, another glass room
housed a female tiger, who fed piglets adorned in tiger-print costumes. This
incongruous display was replicated elsewhere, where enclosures housed tigers,
pigs, and dogs together.
In another area, a visitor could feed milk to a young tiger resting on his or her
lap — a young tiger still in possession of his claws ... There was a tiger circus, not
dissimilar from a circus anywhere else: tigers leaping through rings of fire, walking
across a double tightrope, parading around the ring on hind legs, and riding
around on the back of the horse.
The mixture of tiger and piglets depicted in the images above therefore was not
something undertaken for functional reasons, but rather it's a common form of visual
entertainment provided by the zoo for the amusement of its visitors. According to the
Pattaya Mail, these tiger-pig nursing relationships have also been reciprocated to the
extent that the mother tiger shown suckling piglets was herself nursed by a sow:
Visitors recently witnessed some bizarre feeding habits of the zoo's most famous
inhabitants. A two-year-old female pig named Benjamaj is a blended pedigree of
parents, Land-Less and Las-White, that were imported from Norway. Benjamaj is a
kind and maternal porky. She has taken 4 baby tigers under her care and along
with 3 tiny piglets is nursing the tigers as though she were their mum. She loves
those cats and they love her back.
Unbelieving, wide-eyed tourists pressed their noses up to the cage to get a better
look. As they moved on to the next cage they were in for another surprise, as
there, a great Royal Bengal tigress was lolling on her side and suckling 6 tiny
'Momma' tiger Saimai is two years old and as a baby was suckled by a pig until
she was 4 months old. This democratic start in life allowed her to form a loving
relationship with other pigs and even a dog. Food in the wild, maybe — but at the
zoo, tourists who witness these amazing scenes come away with food for thought.
Although these pictures might appear charming and innocent, the AWI noted back in
2004 that there may be a darker side to the Sriracha Tiger Zoo, as press reports stated
that Sriracha was under investigation for illegally breeding protected wildlife for
commercial export and had been implicated in the sale of a hundred tigers to China
(where there is strong demand for tiger body parts for use in traditional Chinese
medicines). The AWI also noted that in late 2004 the zoo was closed for a month when
between 80 and 100 tigers died or were euthanized due to an avian influenza
(probably spread via the raw chicken carcasses fed to the tigers) that swept through
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