Washington, DC tiger cub flown to San Diego to be paired with smuggled tiger

Posted at 2:22 PM, Sep 11, 2017

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Bengal tiger cub rescued during a smuggling attempt at the US-Mexico border was joined Monday by a Sumatran tiger cub from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

The Bengal tiger was discovered last month at the Otay Mesa border crossing last month and taken to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for care.

RELATED: Smuggled tiger cub found at US-Mexico border

The Sumatran tiger that joined the cub in San Diego is nine-weeks-old. He has been fed by humans since last month because his mother became aggressive toward him. Zoo personnel said the cub would "chuff" in a friendly tiger greeting but his mother, Damai, would not respond.

Animal care staff from the Safari Park were on hand at San Diego International Airport to meet the cub and the keepers upon their arrival. The young tiger was immediately transported to the Safari Park’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center, where he will continue to receive the care he needs.

“We are beyond thrilled to welcome this tiger cub to the Safari Park,” said Andy Blue, associate curator of mammals at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “His keepers reported he did extremely well during the flight — slept most of the way. Our priority now is to ensure he continues to thrive and acclimates well to his new surroundings.”

All buckled in! We're off to @sandiegozoo ????on @southwestair #TigerStory

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“My team has mixed emotions right now,” said Craig Saffoe, curator of Great Cats at the National Zoo. “As his caretakers, we’ve done everything in our power to help him survive, thrive and socialize with his mother so that he can grow up to be a ‘healthy’ tiger. Now that Damai is no longer displaying the maternal behaviors we once saw, our best option is to pair him with the cub at San Diego Zoo. Having another tiger that is about his age to interact with will be tremendously beneficial to the both of them. They’ll be able to play, wrestle and learn how to be tigers together, which is instrumental to his long-term social development.”


??The cub sleeping on the plane. He is cuddling with one of his toys our team brought with them. #TigerStory

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The initial plan was to introduce the two cubs in the next few days, after the cub flown in settled in. Since his keepers thought he did well on the plane and showed no stress after landing in San Diego, he was introduced to the Bengal tiger Monday afternoon. 

If you watched the video above, it's clear that the two cubs have taken to each other - with friendly roughhousing, wrestling and jumping. 

Keepers will keep a close on eye on the cubs for 24 hours, and if all goes well, guests at the Safari Park will be able to see them through the nursery window at the Animal Care Center Tuesday, September 12, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.