Fond Memories of Knut German Zoo Hand-Rearing White Tiger Cub
People are always fascinated by zoo babies -- particularly when they've survived against the odds. Germany's latest bundle of beastly joy is a two-month-old white Bengal tiger born prematurely and abandoned by her mother at birth.
The female tiger cub, who has yet to be named, was introduced to the public this weekend in Aschersleben, in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.
She is one of four babies born on April 5 to tiger lady Kiara. Because of the premature cubs' limited chance of survival, the mother followed instinct and abandoned them, the zoo said.
Weighing only 800 grams at birth, the baby tiger managed to survive thanks to the care of zookeepers. Her three little siblings died within days of being born.
Zoo director Dietmar Reisky raised the one remaining tiger cub in his own living room, feeding it a special formula every two hours.
The case has awakened fond memories of Berlin polar bear cub Knut, who was rejected by his mother and hand-reared from birth to become a worldwide celebrity in 2007.
Although the tiger cub is healthy, her chance of survival is still only 50-50, the zoo said.
The little one has some physical problems as a result of the premature birth, including a compressed ribcage causing shortness of breath. She also has difficulties walking because of a stiff hind leg -- but is reportedly improving.
The zoo's management said it was surprised by the birth because zookeepers hadn't noticed that Kiara was pregnant. White tigers are born with a genetic condition causing them to have none of the usual orange pigment in their fur, although they still have stripes.