Unexpected Surrogates

In a zoo in California, a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, they died shortly after birth.

The mother tiger after recovering from the delivery, suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve.

After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only orphans that could be found quickly were a litter of weaner pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger. Would they become cubs or pork chops?


NAIROBI, JANUARY 6: A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsumani waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the Port city of Mombasa, officials said today.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms, was swept down Sabaki river into the Indian ocean, then forced back to shore when tsumani struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before rangers rescued him.

''It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems very happy being a 'mother','' said AFP ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in-charge of Lafarge park.

''After being swept away and losing its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for a surrogate mother. It landed with the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together.  The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, then it becomes aggressive,'' she said. - PTI