Kai, an adorable tiger cub born weighing just 1.3 kilograms six weeks ago, recently made his debut appearance at Queensland’s Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.
During his introduction to local school children, it was evident that Kai hadn’t yet developed his adult teeth. However, his sharp nails caught the attention of a cameraman filming the event, prompting a warning to avoid scratching the lens.
Kai responded with a high-pitched growl, indicating his independent nature and reluctance to heed directions from strangers.
Despite this, his handler Patrick Martin-Vegue successfully picked him up and introduced him to Sita, Dreamworld’s calm and experienced tiger matriarch.
Their brief encounter at the Tiger Island display marked a significant milestone for Kai. Sita’s nonchalant reaction suggested that she was no stranger to babysitting duties.
Mr. Martin-Vegue expressed relief, stating, “She didn’t eat him, that’s good,” and noted the timing of their introduction on National Threatened Species Day.
Kai is developing well at approximately six kilograms and is expected to gain another 154 kilograms before adulthood.
He has a mischievous and acrobatic nature, and his familiarization with Tiger Island will continue through daily visits.
Kai’s schedule includes leash training, five daily feeds, golf cart rides around the theme park, and obligatory meet-and-greet duties. However, cameramen should remain cautious, considering Kai’s feisty growl.
Born on July 25 at Dreamworld, weighing only 1.3 kilograms, Kai found his home in Tiger Island’s tiger lair during the early stages of his childhood.
The Dreamworld staff were relieved when the cub, named Kai, was found to be in perfect health after his mother, nine-year-old Nika, had a challenging pregnancy.
Mr. Martin-Vegue, who has overseen approximately 30 tiger litters being born, expressed initial concerns due to Nika being a ‘non-contact’ tiger.
The birth of Kai symbolizes the fourth litter of cubs born at Dreamworld since the establishment of Tiger Island over 20 years ago. Previously kept close to his mother, Kai has now entered the public eye, delighting children and adults visiting the theme park.
Craig Davidson, the CEO of Dreamworld, emphasized the significance of Kai’s birth for their interactive tiger program.
He stated, “This long-awaited and important cub is the first of our new generation of tigers, critical for sustaining our interactive tiger program at Dreamworld that supports saving tigers in the wild.”
Developing a bond with Kai is crucial for the handlers to ensure his smooth transition and acceptance of direct contact with humans, an essential aspect of the interactive Tiger Island experience.
Al Mucci, a Dreamworld staffer, explained that this interaction allows guests to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for these majestic animals while fostering empathy for the plight of tigers in the wild.
Dreamworld has donated over $2 million to tiger-related conservation projects, solidifying its position as one of the largest contributors to tiger conservation worldwide.
As Kai grew to weigh 6 kilograms, his mother, Nika, returned to the Tiger Island Lair, home to 12 tigers, including 11 adults and one growing cub.
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