Five month old siblings at Howletts Wild Animal Park

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Where to see them:

Howletts Wild Animal Park, Bekesbourne Rd Bridge, Canterbury CT4 5AE

01227 721286, www.aspinallfoundation.org

Two extremely rare Siberian tiger cubs met the public for the first time this week at Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury.

The five month old siblings were introduced to their new enclosure and more than a few cameras having been hand reared at home by keeper Ben Warren.

Male cub Kazimir and female Arina were rejected by their mother after being born at the Aspinall Foundation’s sister park Port Lympne, near Ashford.

Head of Large Carnivore Section, Ben said: “These cute cubs had a hard start in life, as their mum left them alone. We made the decision to hand raise them so that they would get the nutrition and care that they needed.”

“I got them at two days old. It’s not instinctive for them to suckle from a bottle so you have to teach them in human ways to take food from a bottle. It took a bit of time and for the first few days I had about two hours sleep. After that they started to suckle and I fed them every two hours for about two months before it slowly got easier, every three then four hours.. Even now they are still doing four feeds a day but they are on meat so that is a lot easier.”

There are believed to be only 400 Siberian or Amur tigers left in the wild so it was very important for this little pair to do well.

Ben said: “I was taking them home with me everyday. I had them at work with me obviously and we shared a car journey home before they spent the night at my house, as well as on my days off.

”They have only been in this enclosure for three days now, up until then she has been pretty much sleeping on my bed. They cuddled up with me at night on my bed, very good, very gentle just like a dog really. I love it, this is the best job in the world..”

The boisterous brother and sister responded well to the care of their human parents, however the female – Arina, showed signs early on, of lack of bone mass causing her to walk with a limp.

Neil Spooner, Animal Director explained: “We noticed that Arina was not developing as quickly as her brother and it became evident that she was suffering from a lack of calcification of her limbs. She has already undergone surgery to correct the limp, which has been partially successful – however we will have to wait for her bones to develop further before we can look at pinning the leg to fully correct it.”

Amur tigers have been pushed to the edge of extinction and remain on the endangered species red list as they are often hunted for their striking coats and a strong misguided belief that their bones and teeth have medicinal properties.

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