Congratulations to Sumatran Tiger mates, Skylar/Leanne and Taymor/Larry on the birth of their first Cub, born one week ago today, Sunday February 10. It was not a surprise as I have been on babie watch for weeks after seeing physical signs that she was pregnant :) When the Lion House was closed on Monday, I knew we had a babie! I look forward to seeing your little one and watching it grow! It will be an honor :)
Seeing adorable photos of Leanne's newborn via Zoo released photos, sparked memories I had of watching her previous litter with Bali/Georgie grow up. Being able to see a Tiger Cub from its second day out in public, until it was full grown at one year plus, was one of the most incredible and valued experiences I've had. I have some friends who didn't get the chance so I picked some of my favorite photos from that time frame and posted them. Enjoy! and taste what you have to look forward to with our new arrival!
Now, let's talk names.
I will start by noting that in my posts as well as in person I flux between calling Leanne by that, her donor name and by Skylar, her given name. I have written much about how I feel about name changing, so I want to explain. Even though I have been a lifelong Visitor and as an Adult a Member of the Zoo, it wasn't until 2008, just after these Cubs were born, and I suffered the loss of my kitty of Twenty years, did I start visiting the Zoo almost daily and began to learn about the Residents as Individuals. I first came to know Skylar as Leanne and even though I eventually learned of her given name, out of habit I often call her Leanne. That said, until the long time Big Cat Keeper Barb left in December 2011, the Cats (at least) were given the respect of being called their given names by the Keepers. Names they have been used to their whole lives. Things changed with Barb's departure and new Management, and the Cats are called by their donor names. Disrespectful and confusing. I have posted about this, and you can search for those posts within the blog. In relation to the Tigers making the news, last night I read something that bothered me even further.
When Taymor came to the SFZoo from the Jackson Zoo, he came with a name he had his whole life. Of course the San Francisco Zoo could not leave him to own his own name, changing it to Larry. In a couple articles on the Cubs birth, it noted that "Larry" was on temporary loan for breeding and where he'd be going next was unknown. I had no idea the Zoo didn't plan to keep him (as often breeding loans are indefinite), so to change his name and call him by something other than what he knows for almost a year, then send him off someplace else is really disgusting. This poor Cat is going to be really confused. No wonder he has had stomach issues since he got here. Buts thats another curiosity, for another time.
That all said, what name will the Zoo bestow on this precious little innocent Cub? I can only hope the trend of naming after ball players is over. I would hope the Zoo would think hard and give this special little one a special name. A name that means something. I for one have already started calling it little Padang. Whether its a boy or a girl, I would love to see it named after its Auntie Padang! The Zoo's Sumatran Tiger Padang passed away last spring, reaching a milestone 22 years old, making her the oldest of any Tiger species in a North American Zoo. Padang's Brother Rengat is Leanne's Father. It would be an awesome tribute to an awesome and classy Cat. It is also the capital city of West Sumatra. .... Unless the Zoo sells the naming rights at Zoofest (or another cocktail party) or has a naming contest, in which then a liquored up Donor with a fat checkbook or a five year old could pick a name ranging from Brian Wilson (donor name Tucker the Hippo ended up with) or Russell Brand (name a precious little girl Penguin almost ended up with). Hopefully the Zoo will give this little one a dignified name. If not Padang, maybe Valentino or Valentina since its birth was so close to Valentines Day. My vote is still Padang.
Since I've gone on about names, I'll shelve my curiosities about pregnancies in the Lion House. I'll move on to a concern, just so its noted in print.
When Leanne's last litter was born, they lived in Grotto E, which is now occupied by the Snow Leopards, who at the time were still living in the Feline Conservation Center. Grotto E unlike all the other Big Cat Grottos is flat. Currently the Big Cats rotate the other Grottos, although Leanne's nest box area is within Grotto A, so I assume that is where she and the Cub will be on exhibit. My concern is the moat. I certainly hope the Zoo plans to put up a barrier to prevent the Cub from falling off the ledge. A fence was put up to keep Padang from going down during her senior years. Cats climb so not sure if a fence could be made tall enough or what. That said, two other concerns even with a barrier. I know the fence was only usable for Padang, as it was feared that more agile Cats would attempt to leap over it and fall into the moat. I would hope any type of barrier would be positioned farther back to avoid that with Leanne. Also the edge of the Grotto that borders the moat is only one ledge concern. Grotto A also has the hot rock ledge at the viewing window, that I'm not sure how could be barriered. I do know that when Jahari and Kimani were about six months old I saw them in that exhibit with no barrier, but I also know Leanne started bringing her Cubs out at 6 weeks. Hopefully this will be well monitored.