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Sumatran Tiger Update Oct 15, 2012

two Sumatran tigers look at the camera The cats got a present! Port City Brewery in Alexandria, Virginia generously donated some kegs for the cats to use as toys. It's not easy to find things that can stand up to being played with by tigers and lions, but beer kegs are (almost) indestructible. The lions have discovered that if you whack a beer keg against a cement wall hard enough and often enough, it will start to split. But it took them over ten years so we hope to have these around for another decade. Thanks to Bill Butcher and Port City Brewery from all the cats and their keepers!

As the weather's cooling down, things between Damai and Kavi have been warming up. We have started giving them "howdy" access at night. This means that there is a mesh door instead of a solid one separating them when they are inside. Both of them have several room-sized enclosures inside so that they each have the option of being alone or going into the room where they can visit with each other.

The first day went very well. They were both excited at the chance to get a good close look at this other tiger that they had only caught glimpses of. Kavi couldn't hold still, bouncing back and forth in front of the door. Damai was more controlled and kept chuffing (a noise tigers make to greet each other) and trying to get him to head rub through the mesh. Finally she gave up and lay down on her bench in front of the mesh door and waited for him to calm down.

Over the next couple of days everybody was settling down nicely. Then Damai went into heat. As long as they were both inside things weren't too bad. Kavi may not have been able to breed with Damai but he could keep an eye on her and he knew that she wasn't "stepping out" on him. But for Damai to go outside she had to go down a runway behind Kavi's enclosure. She would get as far as his door, flop down on the ground and start rolling around in a flirtatious manner and refuse to go any farther. All the keepers could do was wait until she wandered out in her own sweet time. But then Kavi was irate because he could no longer be sure some other male tiger wasn't around. And Kavi could see who was responsible for this situation. That's right, the keepers and he let us know what he thought of us!

But things quieted back down again when Damai went out of heat. We will continue to let them have plenty of face time so that when the timing is right they will be completely calm and comfortable with each other.