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article imageOrphaned tiger saved from frostbite spotted with her own family

By Holly L. Walters     Dec 11, 2015 in World
In 2012, animal lovers worldwide were touched by the plight of a tiger cub with a frostbitten tail. Since that time, Zolushka’s tragic story has been transformed into a fairy tale come true.
The female tiger, whose name translates into Cinderella, was originally found by hunters in the far eastern region of Russia. Three years later, she has made an appearance with her new family.
In order to fully appreciate this recent discovery, it is vital to be aware of this particular tiger’s history. Zolushka was turned into an orphan in 2012 by the unconscionable action of poachers, and the men who found her were shocked by her appearance.
The young tiger was starving and frostbitten, and it is a virtual certainty that she would have died if the men had not taken her to a nearby wildlife inspector.
Fortunately, the hunters took a compassionate approach toward Zolushka’s plight. She was soon given medical attention by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), including the partial amputation of her tail.
After nursing her back to health for several months, the rare Siberian Tiger was released back into the wild by members of the IFAW. The footage that the team captured of this momentous occasion showcased a tracking collar on the vibrantly restored animal’s neck, and this has helped animal conservationists keep an eye on Zolushka’s progress.
When she was reunited with her natural habitat, Zolushka was one of less than 400 of these magnificent creatures that was still alive in the wild. Due to this, the IFAW celebrated in 2014 when cameras set up throughout the Bastak Nature Reserve captured images of not only Zolushka but also a male tiger.
Conservationists were excited by the knowledge that their real-life Cinderella story was poised to have a happily ever after. After all, they knew that if the two large cats successfully mated, this would provide a much-needed boost to the population of the Siberian Tiger species.
On December 7, 2015, the IFAW received official confirmation that the moment everyone had been waiting for had actually arrived. Cameras captured the beauty of Zolushka playing with her two cubs. This is huge from a conservation standpoint, and it also has an even bigger meaning for animal rehabilitation efforts as a whole.
Siberian tigers, which are also known as Amur tigers, have been rehabilitated in the past, but Zolushka is the first of these creatures to end up giving birth afterwards in the wild.
Zolushka’s Role in Boosting the Siberian Tiger Population
Although the number of Siberian Tigers in the wild is woefully low, the birth of just these two cubs has had a major impact on the potential of the entire species.
In most areas, it is unusual for even half of all tiger cubs to survive past their second birthday. The beauty of having Zolushka’s family in a nature reserve is that the odds of survival for all four of the Siberian tigers is much higher than usual.
It is common for male and female tigers to only have one litter together, but Zolushka and her mate are the only adult Siberian tigers in the Bastak Nature Reserve. Therefore, the odds are good that their urge to mate will outweigh their typical desire to move on to new partners.
Zolushka’s life expectancy is approximately 15 years, and she is capable of having between two and six cubs every other year. As long as this happens, Zolushka could give birth to as many as 36 more cubs during her lifetime.
When you consider how many additional future generations could be born as a result of the the cubs that are produced by Zolushka and her mate, it becomes easy to understand how important the decision to save one frostbitten tiger’s life actually was. Now Zolushka has the opportunity to play a major role in helping her entire species continue to survive.
In the meantime, Siberian Tigers living in zoos will continue to be a major portion of this species’ overall population, including the surprisingly gentle Amur who recently befriended a goat instead of eating it.
More about Orphaned Tiger, zolushka, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Siberian tiger, Bastak Nature Reserve
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