WATCH+READ: Rare surveillance video of a wild Amur tiger rescued in Russia

© Phoenix Fund. Cinderella undergoing rehabilitation at the Inspection Tiger Rehabilitation Center in Far East Russia.The Amur (aka Siberian) tiger is one of the most endangered animals in the world. Less than 350 individuals of the largest ‘cat’ species in the world are estimated to survive in Russia’s Far East.

With such low numbers, seeing a wild Amur tiger is practically impossible, saving an orphaned one, even harder.

Meet ‘Cinderella’ (Zolushka in Russian). She is one of a just a handful of orphaned Amur tigers rescued and rehabilitated with the purpose of a release back to the wild.

Successful tiger rehabilitation is a very challenging undertaking.

For starters, the rescued tiger needs to be in a ‘goldilocks’ stage in their life for the program to work. This means that the tiger is not too young and completely reliant on mom, but at the same time not quite old enough to survive on its own.

In these cases, a little help from humans can actually save 1/350 of an entire species, well worth the effort!

So, how do you rear an Amur tiger back to the wild?

Well, we’re still figuring it out.

It’s been tried a handful of times but there’s yet to be a case where scientists can categorically claim success. Some may say that it’s equal parts science and art and the exciting news is that specialists agree that Cinderella is the best tiger candidate so far for successful release and survival so she can go into the history books!

Back in February, Cinderella was found weak and malnourished with a frostbitten paw and tail. She was in such a deplorable state that experts believe she wouldn’t of survived the night.

Fast-forward to today and Cinderella is a healthy tigress showing her wild nature and on her way to a release scheduled for May 2013.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has provided funds to feed, shelter and monitor Cinderella through her rehabilitation process. We’ve also sent an expert vet to check on her and we’ll continue to help provide all she needs until she is released back to the wild.

Check out this clip grabbed from the surveillance camera that keeps an eye on her 24/7. Remember, you are looking at uncut footage of a wild Amur tiger, one of less than 350.

Vitaly Timchenko, Deputy Director of the Rehabilitation Center of Inspection Tiger shares bi-weekly reports with us, here’s the latest on Cinderella:

SEPTEMBER 2012:

Cinderella is behaving normally, when Center staff approach the enclosure she quickly moves into the hiding place.

After the food is provided she does not come to get it immediately (as seen through video cameras) but after a while (30-40 minutes).

She likes bathing in the artificial ponds and grooms afterwards. Every day in the evening she walks along the length of the enclosure of her territory.

Feeding is performed according to the following scheme: three days with food followed by a day without food. A day’s feed includes 4 kg of beef and 250 gr. of liver. She is also hunting rabbits which move freely around the Center and regularly move into the female tiger enclosure.

She reacts to various small creatures (frogs, grasshoppers, etc.), which she sees along her way. She is well-fed, based on outward appearance she is in a good physical form.

She is very careful, she keeps listening in and if hears something suspicious immediately moves to the hiding place.

A stone den constructed in the form of a cave serves as her hiding place as well as a wooden space disguised as a natural cover. In windy and cold weather the female tiger hides in the stone den, in hot weather — in the wooden hiding place.

Feeding is performed by placing meat into the enclosure each time in a new place and at different times in order to avoid her getting used to a specific feeding frequency and location. With a break of 1-2 days (changing the days) the tiger is not fed, special “hungry days” are maintained.

OCTOBER 2012:

Cinderella continues to walk along the length of the enclosure fence and spends time on the elevated hill near the pond observing the territory.

Recently she started to spend more time in the stone den.

Monitoring through video cameras demonstrates that she waits while the veterinary places the food in the stone den and leaves. Cinderella then goes in, gets the food and hides to eat it.

For the purposes of possible immobilizations we started to place the food in the same location. The feeding scheme remains the same.

The tiger's behavior remains adequate, consistent with that of a wild animal. She continues to gain weight.

In order to decrease external irritants the number of persons who can visit the Rehabilitation Center continues to be limited.

NOVEMBER 2012:

The latest veterinary examination revealed that Cinderella is a suitable candidate for release back to the wild. It is scheduled for the second quarter of 2013.

The tigress continues to show behavior and skills consistent with a wild animal.

--AF

Your ongoing support of our efforts makes these sorts of rehabilitations possible.

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