Mother Tiger Adopts Piglets
By David Emery, About.com Guide
Netlore Archive: Emailed snapshots taken at a zoo show a mother tiger apparently nursing a brood of piglets costumed in tiger stripes.
Description: Viral images
Circulating since: May 2006
Status: Authentic images / Mislabeled (see details below)
Email contributed by Lisa G., May 2, 2006:
Read the story first, then look at the pictures.
In a zoo in California, a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, they died shortly after birth.
The mother tiger after recovering from the delivery, suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve.
After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only orphans" that could be found quickly, were a litter of weaner pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger.
Would they become cubs or pork chops????????????? Take a look........ you won't believe your eyes!!!!
Analysis: The photos are genuine, but there's more to this story than meets the eye.
To begin with, the snapshots were taken at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi, Thailand (near Bangkok), not some nameless zoo in California. Moreover, it would appear that the sad tale of the tigress falling into a deep depression after losing a litter of cubs was fabricated, as was the claim that zookeepers substituted the piglets for deceased tiger cubs in order to console the "mourning mother."
As it happens, this sort of intermingling of species is not at all unusual at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo, where "creating successful relationships with animals of different species" is something of a guiding principle. The facility, more accurately described as part zoo and part circus, boasts offbeat attractions like basketball-playing elephants, "lady crocodile wrestlers," and a petting zoo where customers can bottle-feed baby tigers with their own bare hands. Visitors have reported seeing tigers, pigs, and dogs all housed together within the same enclosure, with sows nursing tiger cubs and tigresses nursing piglets "adorned in tiger-print costumes."
The costumes are strictly for show, by the way. The mother tiger pictured above, who has been photographed on other occasions suckling piglets au naturel, was herself nursed by a pig in infancy and apparently regards the other species as family, not prey.
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Sources and further reading:
Tiger's Got Baby Tiglets
The Sun, date unknown
Piglets Sleep on Tiger in Sriracha Zoo, Thailand
Reuters, 2 July 2004
Unseen Thailand: Amazing Sights at Sriracha Tiger Zoo
Pattaya Mail, 9 May - 15 May 2003
Too Close for Comfort
Animal Welfare Institute Quarterly, 9 October 2004
Tiger zoo home page
Last updated: 02/12/12