There are now only three months to go before the release of the tiger cubs into the wild. At present, they are sharpening their hunting skills at the «The Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals» (PRNCO «Tiger Centre») in Alekseevka village, Primorsky krai. In order to help the tigers hone their hunting skills, special ‘hunting’ enclosures were prepared where they can practice to hunt a live animal. First, ungulates enter the large enclosure; then shift door is opened and the tigers begin to stalk live prey. In new enclosures, the young predators are very careful, because they have to overcome neophobia, fear of anything new. The tendency to avoid or retreat from an unfamiliar object, situation or place is common in wild predator behaviour.
After the hunt is over, a lot of crows and ravens, that often follow predators and try to steal pieces of their prey, resort near the enclosure. In order to secure their prey from birds, tigers Boris and Kuzya hide meat in a wooden kennel. When they are hungry, the tigers take a piece of meat from their hiding place and eat, and then hide the leftover again. The tigress Cinderella did the same thing with food.
Tigers Boris and Kuzya are very friendly. They sleep together and enjoy playing. Most of all, the tigers like to play fighting and chasing each other. Play is very important to keep animals with difficult social behaviour in captivity, because it effects on further physical and mental health of animals, especially those who are prepared for return into the wild.
We see that siblings from the same litter as well as tigers from different litters are tolerant to each other. Friendship between tiger Ustin and the tigresses grows stronger. Now, the tigresses not only relax, but also eat together.
Behaviour observations of the tigers in captivity indicate that tigers live in a family group, and when prey is abundant they do not conflict with each other.
Photographs and updates on the tigers were kindly provided by Katerina Blidchenko, specialist of A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IEE RAN) and Inspection Tiger specialists.