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Tigerhomes.org - Bottle Feeding Exotics - 2

By: Jason Abels – Assistant Director www.tigerhomes.org Animal Sanctuary
Bottle Feeding Leopard

No matter whether you are Hand Rearing Tigers or Bottle Feeding Leopards you can never forget that these creatures are Wild Animals and Not Pets! As cute as they are you can NEVER forget that fact. One of the most common questions David and I get is, “If you raise them from a cub will they be tame and trustworthy”? Our answer is always the same, NO!!!!!!!!! A tiger will always be a tiger, a leopard will always be a leopard and the Ruffed Lemur will always be a Ruffed Lemur! Yes, in the majority of cases we definitely establish a relationship with each animal we raise and in our care. This relationship is the “Energy We Feed On”. The relationship that we have, that connection we are so fortunate to make with these animals is what makes it all worthwhile. The only thing is that we NEVER forget what we are dealing with. Trust is not an attribute that should ever be associated with any Exotic Animal. Some certainly can be considered “Tame”, but they are all dangerous, especially the Large Predators! This is true from the 600 + Pound Mighty Tiger to the 9 pound Ringtail Lemur. If they have Teeth And Claws, they can and most likely will use their “Teeth & Claws”. Anyhow, I felt it important to mention this fact as the Tiger Baby Pictures and Leopard Baby Pictures and even the African Caracal Baby Pictures included with this piece are in most cases extremely cute and adorable. In no way whatsoever should one ever consider these animals as trustworthy and as a pet! They are NOT.
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Burping the Baby Tiger after Bottle Feeding
Jason burping the baby tiger
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The Tiger Homes Sanctuary takes our role in the upbringing of the Orphaned Animals in our care very seriously. When the decision is made for us to take on the role of “Tiger Surrogate Mom” or any other “Wild Animal Surrogate” we utilize the most up-to-date Husbandry Techniques including the best Milk Matrix for each species in our care, with careful daily records and charts. Just like with a Human Child, after Bottle Feeding a Tiger or Leopard Cub, I have to “burp” the baby. Then to simulate the Mother’s Behavior of using her tongue to stimulate the baby to urinate and defecate I utilize a warm “Wet Wipe” napkin. All I can say is “thank G-d for the Wet Wipe” ;-)! I love each and every infant beyond words; but using my tongue is where I draw the line ;-). This procedure is repeated after each feeding. Baby Tigers and Baby Leopards typically urinate after each feeding and defecate 2 to 3 times a day until they are about 3 months old.

I could go on forever detailing each specific Hand Rearing / Bottle Feeding technique utilized here, but that would be pointless as I am not trying to write a “How To Manual” on Hand Rearing Big Cats and other Exotics. Instead my goal is to provide some insight into the Tiger Homes Sanctuary attitudes and “Hand Rearing” methods of some of its Animal Residents.

Utilizing a warm “Wet Wipe” napkin simulates the mother tiger's bahavior.

One thing I like to do to increase the bonding between the Infant Animal and myself is to groom the baby with my mouth. Once the baby is on the Bottles Nipple and suckling, I like to simulate the mothers Natural Preening Behaviors by dragging my lips and face across the babies as they nurse. This drastically increases the bonding and reassurance levels between the cub and myself. It also in some cases calms them down around food later in life in case we have to approach a feeding adult cat. Having your face in direct contact with Predator Jaws while feeding is the ultimate in bonding J. The bad thing about this is that I always break out around my face because Leopard Fur and Tiger Fur are very oily. Bet you never new that!

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