May 29, 2008 … There may only be 400 of them left in the wild, but in the space of one month, Dreamworld hopes to double its population of Sumatran tigers thanks to the news that Soraya, the mother of one year old tiger twins, Indah and Rahni, appears to be pregnant.
Heralding the hopes of a new litter is a tiny six week old Sumatran tiger cub named Sali that was delivered to Dreamworld on Saturday, May 17.
Born on April 11 to a litter of four at the Perth Zoo, Sali, which means “steadfast” in Indonesian language, had an ill-fated start to life. Rejected by her mother after the death of her three siblings, she faced a future without social interaction. Sali was flown to Dreamworld’s Tiger Island to be hand reared by a team of trainers with a combined 60 years experience.
Dreamworld’s Tiger Island Manager, Patrick Martin-Vegue said, “It’s not unusual for tigers to mis-mother their offspring and while survival was not an issue for tiny Sali, the Australian Species Coordinator for Sumatran Tigers, Chris Hibbard, considered it best to relocate her to a more social environment with the goal of integrating with other cats.
“In the long term, this will improve Sali’s chances of breeding and hopefully bolster the insurance population for the critically endangered Sumatran tiger species.”
Dreamworld already has ten big cats, including Indah and Rahni, the two Sumatran cubs born on Tiger Island March, 2007 and now weighing around 75 kg. All except two of the tigers have been hand raised.
Martin-Vegue plans to integrate Sali with both the giant Bengals and the one year old Sumatrans sometime next week.
“If things go according to plan and Soraya has a successful pregnancy, Sali will also be assimilated with the new litter of cubs which we anticipate will be born in early June.”
He is unconcerned about 200 kilogram Bengal tigers meeting a 4.5kg cub.
“The different personalities on the island will actually improve Sali’s behavioural skills,” he said.
“This is the fourth time that Mohan has met a tiger cub and he’s likely to be the least phased among all the Bengals. But knowing their characters, I’m betting Taj will be the one to teach Sali proper tiger etiquette.”
Sali is now on full public view in the Tiger Island nursery. She is bottled fed four times a day and content to play with her favourite Teddy and SpongeBob SquarePants toy. To see Sali and her step sisters, Indah and Rahni, visit Dreamworld on Australia’s Gold Coast.