Tigers and Snowmen

Cat of the Month ~ January 2013
Longleat Tiger
Tiger meets snowmen
All Photographs: https://www.longleat.co.uk

Longleat’s four Amur (Siberian) Tigers were fascinated by the deep snow outside and were always going to make the most of ‘snow day’ when it came around.

…So where are these snowmen you promised?…

… but when their keepers decided to build some snowmen, things got more exciting and they just had to go in to investigate….

…Look at me guys,….. hey this is fun

So what were these strange white creatures with orange noses…..

…How about a little hug then?…
Photograph: https://www.longleat.co.uk

So inquisitive were the four handsome beasts that they caused the fragile snowmen to collapse…..

…Whats that Camera doing in there?…

…and so, it was off to explore the rest of their snow bound enclosure before retiring to a snug warm pen for the evening.

…nice old tree trunk this…
…Hey I’m cat of the month you know?…
… oi, what are you up too?.. this is a moggies only website….oh you’re sooo cute so its o.k. I guess

Heres the video of the whole episode …or head over to the Longleat website for these and many other wonderful animals.

And what’s an Amur Tiger? you might ask. Well here’s a pretty concise article on the National Geographic website.

Hercules the Liger

It’s official! Hercules the Liger is the Largest cat in the world, and what a beautiful creature he is, standing an amazing six foot to the tips of his ears!
Cat of the Month ~ November 2012
hurcules the liger
Hercules the Liger ~ The largest cat in the world
Photograph: Splash News
Hercules is indeed a massive and sturdy beast, being the largest living liger. If fact he is also recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest living cat on Earth, at 6 foot tall and weighing in at over 410 kg (904 pounds or 64 stones). He is a completely healthy and lively cat and is expected to live a long life. (how would you like to get in a play fight with him, eh Ed? (Norm). Hercules and his brother Aries (born in 2010) are both being raised at Myrtle Beach Safari Park wildlife reserve in South Carolina. It is said that the breeding of these large cats was (in this case) a complete accident. Many Believe that the interbreeding of different species of cat (or any animal for that matter)is not to be encouraged as it can cause medical disorders in the offspring. Long ago (in 19th century India) ligers were first discovered in the wild (born out of encounters between Lions and Tigers when the territories and breeding grounds of these big cats overlapped). Today no such wild ligers are known to exist. So then, Ligers are a cross breed between a male lion (Panthera leo) and a tigress (Panthera tigris). Just like their mothers (Tigers) Ligers love to swim, and like their fathers (Lions) they are very sociable and playful. Notably, ligers typically grow larger than either parent species (unlike Tiglons which tend to be about the size of a tigeress).
Tiny Aries, standing on the head of his brother Hercules – Today Aries will be almost as big as his brother
Photograph: Splash News

Christian the Lion

Christian was a 35 pound lion cub (and a “gorgeous” cat) when John Rendall and Ace Bourke discovered him in the Harrod’s department store window. The year was 1969, and Christian had been put up for sale by the store for 250 guineas (or about 280 pounds). The store had acquired the cub from Ilfracombe Zoo as a sales gimmick, but it had all gone wrong when the inquisitive feline escaped from his cage one night to take a sniff at some goat skins on sale in the carpet department. Needless to say he proceeded to wreak havoc…
Cat of the Month ~ July 2012
Christian the treasured friend of Ace and John.
Photograph: alioncalledchristian.com.au
On seeing the lion the two friends were dismayed and convinced they could give the lion a better home. The two purchased the cub and took him to their flat above the trendy ‘Sophistocat’ furniture shop on Kings Road, in the heart of 60’s “Swinging London”. Christian was a lively, friendly and intelligent cub who slowly built a bond of genuine friendship and trust with John and Ace. He also turned into a local celebrity over the next five months, and produced smiles in all who met him. However the cub was growing fast and in just a few months he became a giant of 185 pounds. At this point Rendall and Bourke realized they couldn’t keep the Lion much longer. The story has a first amazing twist when a fortuitous chance encounter took place… One day Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna the stars of the 1966 film Born Free wandered into ‘Sophistocat’ looking for a writing desk. The actors, hearing of the friends plight at this ever growing Lion suggested that conservationist George Adamson be contacted (George’s wife, Joy, wrote the book ‘Born Free’ about real-life experiences in raising a lion cub). So taking the good advice, Christian was soon shipped out to Africa where he was carefully rehabilitated and released into the wild. The final chapter in the story occurred in 1974, when Rendall and Bourke decided to visit Christian for one last time. They knew he was now a wild animal, so could he be found in the wilds of Kenya….and if they found him would he remember the two surrogate friends? … Adamson told them “it was doubtful that Christian could ever be found…. No one had seen him in nine months”. The two flew to Kenya anyway, and the amazing coincidence is that on the day they landed, Christian (not seen for those nine months) appeared outside Adamsons camp (perhaps knowing his old pals were coming to see him). He was seen waiting outside the camp until Rendall and Bourke arrived. The reunion of this Lion with his human friends is now a well known story which has been made into a film recounting his journey across the globe, rehabilitation in Africa and eventual return to the wild. The video shown below shows the reunion of Ace and John with Christian.

Christian the Lion, a reunion
Video: alioncalledchristian.com.au
Christian is starting to get Big!
Photograph: alioncalledchristian.com.au
For lots more pictures please visit A Lion Called Christians Gallery Pages

White tiger cubs born in the Ukraine

A white tigeress named named Tigrulya gave birth to four tiger cubs in a Yalta zoo on the seventh of May. The newborns are in good health and are being taken care of by staff at the Skazka Zoo in southern Ukraine.
Tigress Tigrulya showing off one of her cubs
Photograph: AP
The name of the mother tiger, Tigrulya, was chosen to honour the former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. A contest is now being held to name the four newborn cubs.
four tiger cubs
Four beautiful cubs, snug in a wooden basket
Photograph: AP
It is very rare that four white tigers are born in a single litter and what is more one of the cubs is an albino with no striped markings on his body at all. Previously (on the 4th August 2010) a litter of rare white tiger cubs were born at a zoo in northern Germany. These events are extremely important as fewer than 250 white tigers exist worldwide, most of them in captivity. It is said that less than one hundred white tigers exist in the wild.

Cheetahs Mark and Monty, maul woman

Two beautiful Cheetahs held in captivity at the Kragga Kamma Game Park in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, struck last weekend, and the trip of a lifetime to celebrate a Scottish woman’s 60th birthday, turned into a battle of life and death.
Don’t mess with a fully grown cheetah …
Photograph: Archibald D’Mello / AP Photo
The supposedly tame cheetahs attacked Violet D’Mello whilst her husband Archie looked on and, erm, took photos. Archie remarked afterwards “They seemed to be pretty docile. They said they were hand reared from cubs and were extremely tame and you could stroke them … and not only that, lay on them and they’ll do nothing to you”. The couple had just taken photos with the animals and were still in the petting area when one of the cats grabbed an 8 year old girl by the leg. Violet tried to stop the attack and allowed the girl to run for safety, but both cheetahs then turned on her in a savage attack that lasted for more than three minutes. Husband Archie kept taking pictures, documenting the horrific scene as the animals bit and scratched his wife’s head, legs and stomach.
… or you’ll end up in the dirt
Photograph: Archibald D’Mello / AP Photo
Violet recounted the story to the Port Elizabeth Herald reporter. “… my instinct took over while a guide tried to pull the cats off of me. Something inside me just said, Don’t move,..don’t move at all. Don’t react, just play dead” The 60-year-old lost a lot of blood during the attack and has a lot of stitches on both her thighs and her scalp, her husband said. Park manager Mike Cantor told the newspaper, “the park had never had any problems with the previously beloved cheetahs”. It’s not something we’ve ever really experienced. It’s obviously very unfortunate, and we’re looking into what may have startled or riled up the cheetahs”. The petting facility is now closed to the public while the park investigates the attack.

Thats cats for you!…., so wild and unpredictable (they’re born hunters after all) and that’s why we love em! Glad to hear no one was seriously hurt though, eh Norm. [Ed]

Black Panther

Black panthers exist in nature as a variant of several species of larger cat. The black colouration of these cats is caused by a genetic (specifically melanistic) variation in color often present due to adaptations to the environment in which the cat lives.
Cat of the Month ~ April 2012
Black Panther – In this case a melanistic leopard, which is the most common type
Photograph: creative commons licence

Examples of the black panther include:

  • Black Jaguars (Panthera Onca), found in Latin America and North America.
  • Black Leopards (Panthera Pardus), found in Asia and Africa.
  • Black Tigers (Panthera Tigris), found in Asia (and very rare).
  • Black Cougars (Puma Concolor), believed to exist in North America but never recorded.
When examined closely, all of these black panthers will in fact show their source cat markings underneath their black colouration. Their skin will look similar to a sheet of printed silk which has been stretched across their frame. This effect is known as “ghost striping”. The black skin is known to be an advantage in regions of dense forest (for instance) as it provides camouflage in the dark environment, and will allow the creature to hunt and stalk almost invisible to their prey. Another benefit of melanism, (recent, preliminary studies also suggest) is that melanism might be linked to beneficial mutations in the immune system, effectively giving these animals a longer and healithier life. It is interesting that melanistic and non-melanistic kittens can be part of the same litter. Several of the Black panther types are now described in more detail: Black Leopard Black leopards are reported in most densely forested areas in southwestern China, Myanmar, Assam and Nepal, from Travancore and other parts of southern India, and are said to be common in Java and the southern part of the Malay Peninsula where they may be more numerous than spotted leopards. They are less common in tropical Africa, but have been reported in Ethiopia, in the forests of Mount Kenya and in the Aberdares. The fur colour of these cats has been recorded as showing a mixture of blue, black, gray, and purple. Melanistic leopards are the most common form of black panther kept in captivity. and they have been selectively bred for decades for Zoos and the exotic pet trade. It is said that black Leopards are smaller and more lightly built than normally pigmented individuals. It is a myth that black leopards are often rejected by their mothers at an early age because of their color. In actuality it has been shown that poor temperament has been bred into the captive strains as a side-effect of inbreeding and it is this poor temperament that leads to problems of maternal care (in captivity only). The Cobweb Panther In the early 1980s, Glasgow Zoo acquired a 10 year old black leopard, nicknamed the Cobweb Panther, from Dublin Zoo. She was exhibited for several years before being moved to the Madrid Zoo. This leopard had a uniformly black coat profusely sprinkled with white hairs as though draped with spider webs. The condition appeared to be vitiligo; as she aged, the white became more extensive. Since then, other “cobweb panthers” have been reported and photographed in zoos. The Black Jaguar Jaguars produce either wholly black or wholly spotted cubs. Also a pair of spotted jaguars can only produce spotted cubs. Where melanistic genes appear in breeding pairs there can be many gradations in the colours produced in the resulting cubs. The allele genes are responsible for this wide variation in colour from dark charcoal rather to jet black. The black jaguar was considered a separate species by indigenous peoples. The British author, naturalist and ornithologist W. H. Hudson wrote: The jaguar is a beautiful creature, the ground-color of the fur a rich golden-red tan, abundantly marked with black rings, enclosing one or two small spots within. This is the typical coloring, and it varies little in the temperate regions; in the hot region the Indians recognise three strongly marked varieties, which they regard as distinct species – the one described; the smaller Jaguar, less aquatic in his habits and marked with spots, not rings; and, thirdly, the black variety. They scout the notion that their terrible “black tiger” is a mere melanic variation, like the black leopard of the Old World and the wild black rabbit. They regard it as wholly distinct, and affirm that it is larger and much more dangerous than the spotted jaguar; that they recognise it by its cry; that it belongs to the terra firma rather than to the water-side; finally, that black pairs with black, and that the cubs are invariably black. Nevertheless, naturalists have been obliged to make it specifically one with Felis onca [Panthera onca], the familiar spotted jaguar, since, when stripped of its hide, it is found to be anatomically as much like that beast as the black is like the spotted leopard. The Black Cougar There are no authenticated cases of truly melanistic Cougars (Pumas). Melanistic Cougars have never been photographed or captured in the wild and none has ever been bred in Captivity. There is wide consensus among breeders and biologists that the animal does not in fact exist. However, Black Cougars have been reported in Kentucky and in the Carolinas. There have also been reports of glossy black cougars from Kansas, Texas and eastern Nebraska. These have come to be known as the “North American Black Panther”. Sightings are currently attributed to errors in species identification by non-experts, and also by the incorrect estimation of the size of these cats when observed in the wild. Footnote: Of course black cats in general are the subject of countless folk tales, myths and anecdotes. Sightings of large black cats have been seen the world over in regions where there are no big cats known to exist at all. For example, here in the United Kingdom more than 2,000 large black cats have now been sighted in the Midlands (near here in fact [Ed]) on Cannock Chase. Finally, within the folklore of the native American Choctaw which has existed for centuries, Black panthers feature prominently, where, along with the owl, they are often thought to symbolize Death.

[source article: Wikipedia]

White Tiger

Cat of the Month ~ January 2012
white tiger image
The White Tiger, rarely seen in the wild.
Photograph: animal-wildlife.blogspot.com

White tigers are basically a colour variant of the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris bengalensis), and are rarely found in the wild. It is though, reported as having been seen in the wild from time to time in the Assam, Bengal, and Bihar regions of India and especially from the former State of Rewa (in fact home to the very first white tiger). It is believed that all white tigers in captivity in the world today are the descendants of this single white tiger, caught (and named ‘Mohan’) by the Maharajah of Rewa in the year 1951.

The White Tiger is almost identical to the now famous Royal Bengal Tiger except for a genetic mutation that causes a change in the colour of the fur and eyes. The origin of the Bengal Tiger is believed to be from the region we know today as Siberia. From there, these Siberian Big Cats (Panthera tigris altaica) migrated south over the course of thousands of years (and as the climate of their native territory became colder). Today Asia, India and Malaysia all are home to tigers (some of which are white due to genetic mutation), although their numbers are dwindling.

White tigers are only born when two tigers that both carry the unusual gene for white colouring, mate. Unfortunately there are many forced breeding programs currently in progress which are detrimental to those tigers bred in captivity. This is indeed often a sad tale which is outlined in the following very serious and informative article [White Tigers – Conserving Misery]. (Not for the very young or easily upset, Ed)

Where present, white (and other) Bengal tigers will be found regions of dense undergrowth and forested areas where they can camouflage themselves and ambush their prey.

Though, today white tigers are mostly confined in zoos (for example the Nandan Kanan Zoo in Orissa, India) they are also found in many National parks, such as those in India and the Far East.