Two Indochina tigers at Thao Cam Vien Zoo in HCM City in April safely gave birth to four small cubs with the help of workers at the zoo who are often called “midwives”.
The small tigers are strong and growing well. Prior to the delivery of the tigers, a female tiger sourced from Thua Thien-Hue Province also gave birth to five cubs in February after a 104-day pregnancy.
Tran Minh Tam, a member of the team in charge of taking care of animals at Thao Cam Vien, is in charge of feeding nine newly born tigers. He has been doing the dangerous job for nine years.
Though the tigers are tame and live in captivity, they are by nature wild, and can attack people at any time. Only skillful people can work in these jobs.
“You need to understand every tiger and use suitable treatment. They are always dangerous during their mating period,” he said.
The first thing Tam and his colleagues do every day is clean up the tigers' cages.
After finishing the work, he watches the tigers from afar. “We need to find out if there are any changes with the animals after a night of living in cages. If we discover something unusual, we report this immediately to doctors to have the tigers examined,” Tam explained.
Tam also keeps watch over the tigers and feeds them every day. Each tiger needs 6-7 kilos of pork and beef for each meal.
Tam pays special attention to Mi, an Indochina tiger who has given birth to five cubs. He said Mi's successful childbearing was one of the most wonderful events at Thao Cam Vien zoo in the last 20 years.
Scientists say it is very difficult to have Indochina tigers give birth. In some lucky cases, a tiger can give birth to two or three cubs only. Meanwhile, Mi gave birth to five children when she was already 10 years old, which was seen as somewhat of a “miracle”, beyond the imagination of the workers and veterinarians.
“Of the five babies of Mi, only three are healthy, and they can live together with the mother. Meanwhile, the other two, who are weak, have been put under special care,” Tam said.
Tam said the workers at Thao Cam Vien have very busy work days during the tigers' pregnancy periods. They have to watch the tigers through cameras round-the-clock.
“If the tiger cannot be seen on the camera screen, we have to visit the cage to check if anything has happened to it,” a colleague of Tam's said.
“During the month after it gives birth, no one can approach it. We can only watch it through cameras,” he said.
“We are very busy taking care of the growing tigers,” said Tran Thi My Hanh, head of the caretaking team. “We have to give them worm shots, examine them regularly and vaccinate them.”
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