Three Endangered Amur tiger “cubs” at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo celebrated their second birthday with their favourite treat – an ice block made of blood.
The two-year-old stripy cubs, Dmitri, Makari and Czar, who were born on 23 June 2018, were given a giant block of frozen blood and water along with a hand-crafted birthday sign.
The birthday celebrations come just days after Sir David Attenborough called upon the public to help save the Zoo - the UK’s largest – saying: “The Zoological Society of London has made an outstanding contribution to conservation and to our understanding of wildlife for 200 years. ZSL now faces its toughest challenge to date - Coronavirus led to the sustained closure of London and Whipsnade Zoo cutting off vital income. Put bluntly, this national institution is now, itself, at risk of extinction.”
Team Leader Graeme Williamson said: “With such a scorching weather forecast for the week ahead, we couldn’t think of a better gift for the tiger cubs than a giant ice lolly – albeit made with blood rather than more traditional fruit!
“The lollies (made inside a giant barrel) are great enrichment for the tigers; where we devise activities or change the way we present their food to encourage their natural behaviour – this leaves a melted scent trail all over the enclosure for them to sniff out.”
The three tigers, now almost fully grown, made short work of the giant block of ice, tearing it down from the tree and rolling it around together to melt the treat.
Graeme added: “Dmitri, Makari and Czar have grown up so fast, and we’ll soon see some changes to the group here at Whipsnade as they reach adulthood; their mum Naya has already moved out ready to eventually move to another zoo, and dad Botzman will also be moving to another zoo – all as part of the internationally coordinated conservation breeding programme to preserve this precious species.”
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo reopened to the public on Monday 15 June after an unprecedented three months of closure due to the coronavirus lockdown. The loss of income put the charity zoo under huge financial pressure as they continued to provide the highest level of care for their animals. Now open to limited numbers only, ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the Zoo, is calling on the public to help ensure they stay open by booking a ticket, joining as a member or donating to ZSL at www.zsl.org/justgiving.