White tiger cubs draw crowds to Saskatoon zoo
Published Tuesday, July 8, 2008 9:53AM EDT
Two rare, white tigers are drawing cub-crazy crowds to a Saskatoon zoo.
Jasmine and Jafar, white Bengal tiger cub siblings, are on display in the Children's Zoo section of the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo. The cubs were born on May 31 to a pair that is on loan from the Toronto Zoo.
Zookeepers are feeding and caring for the cubs after the mother, Rani, was unable to nurse them. They eat a mixture of kitten formula and hamburger every three hours, zookeeper John Moran told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday.
"They're doing really great," he said. "They're gaining weight and people are just loving them."
He said the cubs eat increased amounts of solid food every two days and soon they will be eating chicken and fish.
"We'll only be handling these animals for another couple months and then we'll probably handle them hands-free,'' said Moran, whose hands are scratched from the cubs' claws. "The female is more demanding than the male is, but they both have their moments."
The tigers are set to return to Toronto in the fall. The male cub could grow to be 600 pounds and the female could get as heavy as 350 pounds, said Moran.
The white Bengal tiger only occurs when both parents carry the recessive gene that causes the unique colouring. White tigers make up only one of every 10,000 tigers born in the wild.
Their eyes are pale blue, their noses are pink and their stripes are brown, in stark contrast to the orange and black tigers that are the norm within the species.
The zoo estimates there are less than 5,000 wild tigers left in the world and says Bengal tigers could be gone from their habitat in India and China within the next 10 years.