Chapter Two - Becoming a tiger

by ZSL on

Chapter 2 - Becoming a tiger

Kemala the tiger

Kemala is six months old and a lot has changed. 

For starters, she’s no longer a squirming ball of fluff - and it takes more than a silly old squawking bird to scare her these days. Now she’s bigger - almost the size of the wild pigs Mum brings home for dinner - and able to run and pounce. Her legs are long and gangly, ending with mas-sive paws that are a little too big for her. Her ears are large and alert, and her stripy orange and black coat has lost most of its kitteny fluff.

She and her brothers spend most of their time playing together, running, jumping and tumbling through the tree roots, tangled vines and long grasses that make up their jungle home. She’s still the biggest of the three and loves to catch the smallest’s ear in her mouth and pin him down - always careful to keep an eye on the other in case he pounces. 

They’re getting braver all the time, running off whenever mum isn’t looking and landing them-selves a swipe or two when she tracks them down. 

One day as they’re exploring, the three stumble onto something strange. A small black box. It’s attached to a tree trunk, but it doesn’t look like it’s part of the tree, it cant belong there… 

As Kemala moves towards it the box makes a ‘click’, like the snap of a twig. She stretches out her nose, sniffing - ‘click!’ - it goes again. It smells odd, like an animal she’s never met before. She licks it, but it doesn’t taste of much. Eventually her brothers rush forward and the three bat it with their paws, bouncing around as it clicks madly at them, before…

“Hsssssssss!’ an angry Mum arrives to drag them back to the den. 

Mum is still something of a mystery to Kemala and her brothers - quick to deliver a stern blow with her great paws that leaves the cubs dizzy, but occasionally rolling on her back to let them jump and tangle in the soft fur of her tummy. 

Her flicking tail is an object of fascination and they take it in turns to pounce on it until her pa-tience runs out. She also still insists on licking them a lot. Sometimes her licking is so fierce they get knocked off their paws - then she starts all over again. 

Today Mum has decided to take Kemala on her first hunt, leaving her brothers in the safety of the den. She struts proudly through the long grass after Mum, tail in the air - until Mum growls at her to crouch low to the ground. 

They approach the banks of a noisy, moving river, and lie down to wait. 

Hours later and… still nothing! A mew of complaint is on the tip of Kemala’s tongue but, before she can make a noise, a deer walks nervously into the clearing and, deciding the coast is clear, bends down to drink. She watches as Mum leaves their hidden spot, legs bent low, her tummy sliding silently along the ground, using the tall grass to get close enough and…

BAM! She springs into the air in a pounce and grabs the deer’s neck.

The deer falls to the floor and it’s over in seconds. Before she knows it Kemala is next to Mum eating the most delicious meat she’s ever tasted. 

Back at the den, her brothers eye her jealously. She doesn’t waste a minute trying out her new trick. While the two are eating, she sneaks up on them, staying as low as she can, using the grass, and pounces. They squeal in surprise and rush into the den. Kemala sits down to eat, feel-ing pleased with herself. 


Watch out for chapter three coming soon!

Select a blog

Careers at ZSL

Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.

Nature at the heart of global decision making

At ZSL, a key area of our work is the employment of Nature-based Solutions – an approach which both adapt to and mitigates the impacts of climate change. These Solutions, which include habitat protection and restoration, are low-cost yet high-impact, and provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife. We ensure that biodiversity recovery is at the heart of nature-based solutions. 

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!


We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.


From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.


A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.

Artefact of the month

Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.

Wild About

Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.

Asia Conservation Programme

ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.