By Bejay Browne
The first Siberian tiger to be born in Cyprus is doing well and has just received her second vaccination at a vet in Paphos, her carers said on Thursday.
Lara the female cub was born at Pafos Zoo last year. She is now 80 days old and is being weaned after being hand reared by Ioulios Christoforou, who is training to be a vet. Until recently she was living in his home where he hand fed her every few hours with a special formula, after her mother rejected her, leaving her outside in the cold.
She is now being fed 700g of beef daily, as well as supplements including calcium and vitamins, Christoforou said.
“Lara was living with me at home but she’s now too large and playful to do that. She is big and strong and likes to bite wires, so she is now being introduced to her own quiet enclosure at the Zoo.”
Lara, whose name was chosen by a member of the public via the zoo’s Faebook page, is being left in her enclosure for a couple of hours a day. The amount of time will increase with time and at seven months old, Christoforou said that human contact will stop as it’s dangerous and the cub will need to find her ‘wild’ side.
“Hopefully she will be able to go in with other tigers, but we will try this in steps. At the moment, I’m still with her for most of the day and we leave her alone for a few hours, so that she gets used to it. We don’t want her to suffer any stress.”
Parents Bonnie and Clyde arrived at the zoo as part of an exchange a few years ago. The trainee vet said that as Lara’s mother was young and this was her first cub, she felt that she couldn’t cope, and took the baby out in the cold and left her there.
Since then, the cub has gone from strength to strength and is developing well, he added.
Siberian or Amur tigers are facing extinction in the wild, with only close to 400 left and the zoo wants to help reintroduce them back into their natural habitat.
Christoforou said the facility hopes to introduce a new blood line into the wild but said this would be hard as a tiger suitable for release needs to be raised by its parents, as hand reared cub wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild. Lara may give them this opportunity in the future, he said.
The zoo covers an area of 100,000m² and is now home to lions, tigers, giraffes, penguins and a number of successful breeding programmes are in place.