For the first time ever, a rehabilitated Siberian Tiger has given birth to tiger cubs in the wild. Conservationists everywhere, rejoice!
Her name is Zolushka (Russian for Cinderella) and she was found as an orphan, starving tiger cub in 2012. Despite losing part of her tail to frostbite, Zolushka was rescued, rehabilitated and loved back to health at the Alekseyevka Rehabilitation Centre in Russia.
In order to try and maximize Zolushka’s chances of being successfully returning to the wild, the team at the rehabilitation center kept her away from humans. She slowly learned to hunt live prey, live as an adolescent tiger, and at 20 months old (after being equipped with a GPS collar) she was released in the Bastak Reserve.
Not long after –two tiger cubs were born!
This is the first instance EVER of a rehabilitated Siberian Tiger giving birth in the wild.
Masha Vorontsova, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in Russia, said: “This is what we’ve all been hoping for since her release in 2013. This shows that she has fully adapted to a life in the wild and is able to successfully hunt, breed and now raise a new generation of tigers.”
The birth is also amazing because tigers disappeared from the forests of the Bastak Reserve 40 years ago. A lone wild male made the unexpected journey to find Zolushka – and together they created the adorable cubs.
Aleksandr Yuryevich Kalinin, director of the area said, “This is a great day for the Bastak Reserve… This demonstrates that there is still suitable habitat for tigers in the region, and there is a place for tigers here.”
If the team at IFAW is able to replicate its success with Zolushka, there are tremendous implications for both Russian and aggregate tiger populations. Zolushka has given conservationists hope about the future – and we’re ecstatic!
By Bailey Schroeder, ResQwalk Founder + CEO
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