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Bastak Reserve
Bastak Reserve

Rare Siberian Tiger Cubs Born in Russian Reserve

Bastak Reserve
Bastak Reserve

In 2012, a group of hunters found a four-month-old female Amur (Siberian) tiger cub alone in Russia’s Primorskii Krai in 2012. She was in bad shape: suffering from frostbite, starving, and close to death.

The hunters brought the cub—one of only about 540 endangered Amur tigers left in the world—to local wildlife authorities, who named her Zolushka, or Cinderella. The local wildlife manager performed an operation to remove the tip of her tail, which had been irreparably damaged by the cold. Once she recovered, Zoluskha was transferred to a tiger rehabilitation center, where she spent the next year learning how to be a tiger—living without humans and hunting her own food. 

Young tigers typically leave their mothers at 20 months old. When Zolushka reached 20 months, she was moved yet again, this time into Bastak Reserve. Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Russian Academy of Sciences tracked the young tiger’s first few months to be sure she could make it on her own. They needn't have worried; Zolushka adapted quickly to her new environment and wasted no time tracking down the reserve’s wild boars, red deer, and badgers.

Image credit: Bastak Reserve

There was still one problem: The last of Bastak Reserve’s tigers disappeared in the 1970s. Zolushka could be the first of a new generation—but only if she could find a mate. And there were none to be had on the reserve.

Then one day, a single male tiger appeared. Scientists estimate he must have traveled more than 124 miles from the nearest tiger territory to get there. Before too long, Zolushka’s trackers began finding two sets of huge pawprints together in the snow.

Months passed. Then, last week, the reserve inspector spotted something wonderful on a camera trap: a healthy Zolushka, standing protectively over her two cubs. They are the first tigers born in the reserve in 40 years. 

“This is a watershed event not just for Zolushka, but for the entire population of Amur tigers,” WCS Russian director Dale Miquelle said in a press statement. “These births mark the return of tigers to habitat that had been lost, and the beginnings of a recovery and expansion of the last remaining Amur tiger population.” 

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
iStock
iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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