05 December 2011

Off-Topic with the Tigers

My home has been rather chaotic this holiday season. I decided to take a little mental health break and run down to ZooAtlanta on Friday afternoon. It was a nice day, cool in the morning but warming up to comfortable autumn weather by afternoon. I specifically went to view Chelsea and her five-month-old cubs, Sohni and Sanjiv. I had hoped to see them a month ago during Po's birthday celebration, but tiger father Kavi was out on exhibit that morning, the weather was extremely fine for November -- more like late summer than autumn -- and Kavi was not about to give up the yard and go inside.
Sumatran Tigers are a smaller sub-species of tiger, but they still have all the majesty one expects in a big cat. Unfortunately, their numbers in the wild have diminished to about 400. Like so many apex predators, tigers require significant space for territory and plentiful prey. With seven billion people on the planet, there are fewer resources for other species. This is true in the Unites States as well as far-flung places like Sumatra. (After all, when was the last time you saw a Florida panther or red wolf?) Places like ZooAtlanta provide more than a safe place for endangered species. ZooAtlanta works in cooperation with universities and conservation organizations to conduct research that helps both captive populations and those still in situ.

For the moment, this happy feline family represents a lot of hope. Big cats do not stay little and cute for long. By springtime, the cubs won't be little anymore. Right now, Sohni and Sanjiv are at the adorable and playful stage. I spent more than an hour watching their antics. They were thoroughly entertaining as they chased each other as well as their very tolerant mother. I am sure the cubs won't be out on exhibit in very cold weather. So, if you are in Atlanta and the afternoon is seasonably pleasant, it is well worth your time to scurry down to ZooAtlanta for a wonderful mental health break.

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