Monday, June 19, 2006

Piggies of a Different Stripe

My friend sent me these amazing pictures by e-mail a while ago, and we bantered back and forth about how such a thing might occur.

So, I did a little online searching and discovered the following heartwarming, Awwwww-inducing citations here and here and with expanded detail here.

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. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into adepression. The doctors decided that if thetigress 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 mourning mother. 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 weaner [weaning?] pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger.

Of course, that story isn't true or even from freakylicious California, and tigers' keen senses aren't as easily conned as all that. It turns out that this tiger is the product of a strange Thai zoo (cited to bizarre philosophical effect here). Sriracha Zoo is an oddity where curators expect lambs to gambol happily with lions, and tiger cubs are nursed by sows for allegedly enhanced growth and to instill the perverse confusion that the porcine are of the same family as the feline.

No one has indicated that the grown tigers aren't still fed meat, although presumably not pork. And this might even seem marginally okay (if unscalable and perverse) provided the animals were otherwise well-treated. However, there seems to be some dispute about that.

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