By David Mizejewski, Animal Planet
Wildlifeextra.com is reporting a fascinating story about two tiger cubs in India that were orphaned last year. The mother tiger died of a blockage in her intestinal tract, leaving her four month old cubs defenseless.
Tiger cubs stay with their mother for up to two years, nursing and then feeding off her kills, learning to hunt, and enjoying her protection from predators and male tigers, which are known to kill cubs. Based on this, wildlife managers felt it was unlikely the that the cubs would survive, even with feeding stations, and feared the worse when they disappeared.
And then, miraculously, the cubs appeared in photos taken by a camera trap some months later — strolling along with an adult male tiger, their likely father. In an unheard-of turn of events, the resident male tiger filled in for his deceased mate, apparently caring for the babies that he would have had nothing to do with under normal circumstances.
“Here was their father, the dominant male of the area, out on his regular territorial walk with his own small orphaned cubs. Nothing like this had ever been recorded before. A male tiger, taking on a mother’s role – and from such a tender age….
“The cubs are alive and well today, and history is being well and truly rewritten by this extraordinary father, after nearly a year of fatherly motherhood.”
The wild world is a tough one for young animals, and most don’t survive to adulthood. These highly endangered tiger cubs have a fighting chance, thanks to the odd behavior of this particular male tiger.