This world is full of beautiful animals; poaching and the destruction of their habitat has contributed to the decline of these amazing creatures. Asia, a Sumatran Tiger is one of these creatures; she came to me when she was only five months old, her mother was killed by poachers, the conservatory that housed tigers on the Island she was from could not take her because they did not have the facilities to house a cub, they put out a global 911 for any zoos or conservatoires that would be willing to take her. My boss answered that call, even though we had no room for her we were terrified of the alternative. So when our precious gift arrived I gracefully offered to take her home with me until we had room for her. My mother was less then pleased when I walked through the door with a baby tiger. But when Asia looked at her with those beautiful yellow eyes my mother instantly fell in love with this furry bundle of joy just as I had.

The first few months was more than trying on my nerves, Asia destroyed all of the furniture and almost ate my brother Jetts hamster on more then one occasion. As she grew housing her was becoming more and more difficult but I couldn't bring myself to get rid of her. After three months the conservatory had room for her, Asia refused to leave my side; I felt horrible watching them sedate her but unfortunately there was no other way. She refused to eat and after four days I brought back home with me, my mother and I decided that it would be a better idea if I found a place of my own where Asia could have plenty of room to be a tiger, being as how I was only twenty and had very little money, all of which went to feeding my enormous house cat. Dr. Manning, the head of the breeding program let us stay at the guest house on his ranch, I had never seen that tiger so happy, she spent all day running around in the field chasing butterflies and swimming in the pond behind the house on really hot summer days. At night she cuddled up my feet at the end of the bed, it wouldn't be very long before she took up the whole bed, at ten months old she weight almost 100 lbs or more; she refused the dead animals that had been provided to her and started stalking live stock on the ranch next to us. It wasn't until live stock started to go missing that I knew that this was no longer as safer place for her, the rancher threatened to shoot Asia if she wondered on her property again, endangered species or not she was killing his animals.

“Cassidy we need take her back to the conservatory where she will be safe, I know you love her but we need to do what's right for Asia.

I was over come with sadness as I watched the big cat play, she had no idea that her freedom was about to be taken away forever and there was nothing that I could do about it.

“Dominic there has to be another way, she will starve to death if we lock her up. I am her mother she still needs me.”

Dr. Manning hung his head and signed; “You have done amazing things for her, but like I said we have no choice. She is starting to wonder off the property, its not just other ranchers live stock we have to deal with. What happens if next time she kills a child, then we would have no choice but to euthanize her.”

I tearfully agreed, that night Asia and I stayed in the main house which was gated to ensure that she couldn't get into any more mischief, that night at dinner I hardly touched my plate. Sensing that something was wrong Asia put her massive head on my lap. She looked at me with great sadness as if she knew what was going to happen. I broke down, I tried to be strong, even though I knew that I would be able see her every day, it was not going to be the same. Not having her next to me every moment of the day and especially at night was going to be very difficult. Dominic cleaned up the dinner dishes while I took Asia out for her nightly run, instead of being her normal rambunctious self she took on step outside and then laid down at my feet.

“Come on girl lets go play.” I started to run and with a matter of seconds Asia had knocked me over and was on top of me, normally that would be a very frightening situation for most people but for me it was no big deal. I started to giggle as she started to roll me around on the ground when she finally let me get up Asia grabbed my hoodie in her mouth and with a very powerful tug she pulled my on the ground ripping my hoodie. I hit the ground so hard that my pain shot through my whole body, I lightly tapped her on the nose letting her know that was not appropriate. Asia nudged me with her head, her way of apologizing to me; “Its okay you big brute, you just have to be more careful with your fragile mamma. Now lets go inside and get ready for bed we have a big day tomorrow.” She tilted her head at me as if she understood what I was saying.

The next morning I woke up feeling like I was hit by a freight train, the whole left side of my body was covered in bruises. Asia was still sleeping soundly, she had decided to steal my pillow in the middle of the night and was now cuddling with it. The smell of bacon and coffee slowly started to waft into the bed room, of course that got the lazy tigers attention. Asia jumped off the bed knocking me over and ran out the door, by the time I got to the kitchen she had already had her fill of breakfast.

“Your walking a little stiff girl, did you have a ruff night? Dominic handed me a cup of coffee and the newspaper.

“I was wrestling with Asia, which was probably not the best idea she is defiantly not a cub anymore.”

Dominic just laughed when he saw the large tear on the side of my hoodie, his smile faded when he noticed the logo on the front of it.

“That is the fourth uniform that I had to replace for you, I am going to have to charge you for a new one.”

I glanced over at Asian and smiled; “It was worth the money, plus she felt bad when she did it, oh have you heard anything about getting her into the breeding program?”

“As a matter of fact I just got a email this morning, we can start her fertility injections right away. I know how you feel about that but we have had major break through, four of our Bangle tigers have given birth to six healthy cubs.”

“What about the health of the mother, is there any side effects?” The first couple of cats turned extremely violent killing killing their handlers and wounding many others.

“It turns out that they had distemper which was amplified when giving the fertility injections, the handlers kept the condition out of the report to get their animals into the breeding program. And I have more good news, you and Asia can live together at the conservatory. We realized after last time that she looks to you as her mother and will do much better with you.”

“But you said......” I was absolutely elated at the news, a little angry as well. Here I thought I was going to be separated from my baby forever. I didn't know if I should hug him or hit him. After breakfast we cleaned up and prepared Asia for transport, I thought I would have to sedate her. I walked over to the truck and opened the door as soon as I opened the door she jumped right into the front seat.

“Excuse me little lady, cats belong in the bag seat.” She just stared at me so I poked her in the side, she hissed at me I slowly backed away and climbed into the backseat. Dominic completely lost it.

“I glad you think that's funny.”

“That's what you get for spoiling Asia, I told you from the very beginning that you need to insert dominance but no you insisted on giving into her every whim.”

I just crossed my arms and slouched into the seat, Dominic was absolutely right but I was going to give him the satisfaction of telling him so. Asia stuck her head out of the window as we drove down the highway, the look of shock on peoples face was absolutely priceless, Its not every day that you see a tiger sitting in the front seat of a pick up truck.

When we arrived Asia was very hesitant about getting out of the vehicle, it took half a bag of potato chips before she finally gave in. Our room was beautiful; looking out the window I could see the whole whole tiger compound. The bangle tiger and her cubs were basking in the sun, while Margret the white tiger was taking full advantage of the pond while her kittens napped near by. The bed room was massive with a king size bed, large desk with computer and my very own bathroom. There was a small door and the left side of the room had a door leading out to Asia's very own exercise yard, it was only a matter of seconds before she found the door and was outside, she looked like a kid in a candy store; the very next day she would start her treatment.

After breakfast and two hours in the exercise yard Asia and I made are way down to the lab which was located on the third floor, most of the tigers that come into the building is heavily sedated because they aren't as tame as Asia. However it would have been much easier to give her injections if we would have knocked her out, to say that she was unhappy was the understatement of the year. Over the next few weeks we monitored her behaviour to make sure she had no reaction to the shot besides trying to eat the lab technician.

The day had finally came when she was ready for artificial insemination, unlike most breeding programs that have a breeding male we find that it is less stress on the female especially first time mothers to inseminate them; we sedated her for this because was safer for everyone involved. Most tigers took three or four times before they became pregnant but not my girl so took on the first try; three months later we had eight healthy happy kittens. I immediately called my mom to let her know that I was a grandmother and that we had done it; found away safe way to bring a critically endangered species back to the world.

The end  

April 22, 2021 22:45

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