January 2, 2013
Good news—Kavi and Damai have bred! While it is only once so far, it shows that Damai has overcome her understandable caution and that she trusts Kavi.
In the last update we talked about how we were doing introductions even though Damai was no longer in heat. We feel that these "soft" intros really helped Damai understand that Kavi had no intention of hurting her. We would wait until both cats had settled down in their respective enclosures and then open the door that separated them. Then we watched what appeared to be a whole lot of nothing. But in fact, over the course of a couple of weeks, there was a gradual easing of tension. By the time Damai started to cycle again she was much more confident and relaxed with Kavi.
Even with her confidence rising along with her hormone levels Damai was not entirely cooperative. There were still a few false starts and just as before when the fur flew, it always seemed to be Kavi’s fur, not Damai’s. There was never any serious damage done, but still Kavi’s patience and self control have been very impressive. We and Damai are very lucky to have him.
We will continue to do closely monitored introductions with them and we hope that there will be more breeding. Tigers are induced ovulaters which means that it is the breeding itself that causes the female's ovaries to release the eggs.
And please remember that when both Kavi and Damai are inside for their intros, there will be no tigers out on exhibit. The tiger yard should be empty for less than an hour at these times (unless things are going REALLY well!) so we ask you to please be patient and to keep your fingers crossed!