JOHOR BARU: The Year of the Rat is fast approaching, but that has not stopped a privately-owned zoo here from delightedly welcoming the birth of three tiger cubs.
The 'babies' have been aptly named Xi Xi (Happiness), Fatt Fatt (Increased Fortune) and Chai Chai (Prosperity) in the spirit of the Chinese New Year.
Born two weeks ago in Saleng Zoo near here to Siberian Bengal tigers, nine-year-old Kasih and 12-year-old Kang, the cubs have just begun to open their eyes.
Zoo caretaker J. Sivapriyan said that the cubs were healthy and weighed about 2kg each.
They are still feeding off their mothers milk, he said, adding that the cubs would be ready to meet the public by Chinese New Year.
Visitors to the zoo will also be able to take photos with Xi Xi, Fatt Fatt and Chai Chai, he said.
When taken out of their enclosures for the first time, the cubs nosed cautiously about taking in the sights and smells of their new surroundings.
Their mother Kasih, who had given birth to eight sets of cubs previously, showed no signs of protest, only watching intently as her cubs were taken out of their cages in a basket.
Sivapriyan said Kasih was already familiar with the zookeepers and trust them to take care of her cubs.
She knows that we will bring her cubs back to her soon, he said.
Unfamiliar with the area, however, little Xi Xi, Fatt Fatt and Chai Chai did not venture far during their first outing, preferring instead to huddle close to each other.
Zoo owner Chai Sip Yee of T.C. Arapaima & Tropical Fish Sdn Bhd said he hoped the three cubs would bring lots of visitors to his zoo this Chinese New Year.
Visitors can also take part in karaoke sessions at the zoo for five days starting Feb 8, he said.
The zoo opens daily from 9.30am to 7pm. The entrance fee is RM12 for adults and RM6 for children. It is located at Lot 3777, Batu 17 1/2, Jalan Raya, Saleng, 81400 Senai, Johor.
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