Sunday, March 9, 2008
Motherhood without discrimination
The pictures tell the story. The heartwarming images and the details arrived in a forwarded e-mail today. I passed it along to a few, hand-picked animal lovers among my family and circle of friends. I received a couple of interesting responses: one was from Oneal who suggested that I share it with the blogosphere. The other (a friend in Pennsylvania) wrote: "Oh great! And what will we do when these pigs grow up and start attacking people? That's all we need! Man-eating pigs! And where is the mother pig? Off nursing a litter of lions maybe?"
In 2004 at a California zoo, a tiger gave birth to rare triplet cubs. The cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, died shortly after birth. The mother tiger after recovering from the delivery, suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she appeared to be fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused her to fall into postpartum depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could become a surrogate for another mother's cub or cubs, perhaps she would improve.
After checking with zoos across the country, 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 weanling pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger.
The rest is history...