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Pigs and Dogs and Tigers

Updated on July 17, 2011

It seems to run on a bit of a cycle, usually when the papers or the TV are short of news and then comes the story. 'Pig Nurses Baby Tigers' or 'Tiger Nurses Piglets'. It is favourite and no doubt everyone has seen it or similar at one time. Sometimes it is said to be somewhere in California or China. In fact it could be because it it is not an especially difficult thing to orchestrate.

There is actually nothing clever about pigs nursing tigers or tigers nursing pigs or dogs nursing pigs and tigers. The mothering instinct in all lactating new mother is extremely strong and providing certain precautions are taken then acceptance of a new animal is not likely to be much of a problem.

With regards to a tigress accepting piglets. The Dam should essentially be hand reared and of an affable character. If she has been declawed (a barbaric procedure) then this will help proceedings. The introduced piglets should be scented usualy by being rubbed all over by urine from the dam or better still any birthing fluid she may have passed. Dressing the piglets up in little tiger jackets is not essential but makes a cuter shot for photographers.

Having said that, just what is the point?

The point is the gullible tourists fall over themselves to take photos and 'Ooh' and 'Aah' and declare how wonderful it is. It isn't.

When it comes round to the Sow rearing tigers the situation is in reverse except that here the sow is in a creep and cannot readily attack any introduced tiger cubs. Any cub placed amongst the feeding piglets rapidly takes on the scent of the other young and quickly becomes to all intents and purposes another (albeit striped) piglet.

Some of these third rate zoos claim that they are doing such a swap because it leads to quieter tigers more suited to zoo conditions. What rubbish. Tigers should either be in the wild or within suitable zoo accommodation actually being Tigers! There is nothing noble about what these places are doing. It is:

  • Lack of knowledge because mother knows best.
  • Pure commercial exploitation. If the tiger mother has the cubs taken off her at birth then the zoo can get her pregnant again, quickly.

There is absolutely no conservation side to this. These animals are not studbook managed. They are important and we should care about them as living creatures but as to saving the worlds tigers. No they are not helping at all.

This is an endless cycle which produces more and more unneeded tigers. It literally is tiger farming.

It isn't as if they remain with the sow for very long. At places like the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo the animals rapidly move on from pig feeding tiger cub to tourist paying to feed tiger cub to large cub reacting with African staff. After that some tigers will end up in their numerous enclosures. Some will go into the circus. Some may pose as adult tigers on a chain for tourist photos and the rest? Who knows? Nobody knows where they go. In the past they have been shipped out the back door to tiger farms in China...but today?

Although the Sri Racha Tiger Farm is not using dogs for rearing all the time, they have done. There is one display which houses a dog a pig and a tiger together. There is a similar display to be seen at the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo.

These cutie cutie shots don't end with pigs and dogs and tigers. We get equally appalling rubbish like Chimpanzee babies rearing White Tigers and Orangutans making friends with dogs. None of this is clever. All these animals should be with their own mothers, with their own kind. If they are not. Ask questions.

Read more of this and other zoo news by visiting Zoo News Digest and also visit the Zoo Hubs.

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