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Sedgwick County Zoo’s tiger cubs enjoy a snow day

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, at 7:02 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, at 6:44 a.m.


Amur tigers Natasha and Tsar frolicking in the snow

First snow day for the cubs.

About Amur tigers

About 150 Amur tigers live at 50 Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions. Amur tigers, also called Siberian tigers, are the largest of the tiger subspecies and are found in the wild in eastern Russia, northeastern China and the northern regions of North Korea. Their environments are harsh, and the tiger has an extra layer of fat to protect it from the cold.

Amur tigers are managed under a Species Survival Program by the association.

There are only about 350 to 400 Amur tigers in the wild. Logging and poaching have reduced their numbers.

Source: Sedgwick County Zoo

Natasha and Tsar cautiously approached the snow, unsure what to think of it.

“At first, they were hesitant to go out,” Jody Sentel said of the two Amur tiger cubs at the Sedgwick County Zoo enjoying their first snow. “They were real inquisitive for a few minutes, digging in it, sniffing at it. They were very confused by the fact that it stuck to their noses.”

But it didn’t take long for the cubs to start playing, said Sentel, zookeeper of the African Veldt exhibit at the zoo.

The cubs, born on July 6, started tackling each other and their mom, Talali, in the fresh snow.

Natasha and Tsar went on exhibit at the zoo on Sept. 19, braving rain, thunder and lightning for the first time.

Amur tigers adapt well to cold weather, Sentel said. The environment of their native habitat is harsh.

“They’re one of the few animals that are able to go out when it’s this cold,” she said Sunday. “Usually when it’s under 20 degrees, there are only a few animals that want to be outside.”

Stephanie and Cinda, the zoo’s two South African elephants, for example, were kicking it inside Sunday. Zookeepers brought in wheelbarrows filled with snow for them to eat.

The zoo’s hippos also enjoyed some snowy snacks.

The holidays so far have gone well for the tiger cubs. They got a gingerbread house to eat and cardboard tubes filled with meat during the zoo’s recent “Season’s Treatings.”

The zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.

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