by Greg Mayer
Jerry is working on a Caturday felid post, but, as we all know, he is traveling in Antarctica, and thus the timing of its completion could be delayed. So, here are some felids for your Caturday fix! First up, a Siberian Tiger (Panthera, tigris altaica).
Siberian Tigers are the largest of the living cats, with body lengths (not including tail) exceeding 9 feet and weights exceeding 650 pounds. Like all tigers they are endangered, and occur in the Russian Far East and far northeastern China. I photographed this and the other cats during my vertebrate zoology class’s field trip to the Milwaukee Zoo, which I’ve already shown some penguins from.
A few years ago, zoos began calling Siberian Tigers “Amur Tigers”, the Amur River being the border between Russia and China. I’m not sure why zoos did this, but I see no reason to change the English vernacular name, since most English speakers know Siberia, but relatively few know what the Amur River is.
There was also a Lion (Panthera leo), a large male, also tight asleep.
Lions, as WEIT readers may know, were once widely distributed in southwestern Asia, and one population survives in the Gir Forest of northern India; the fellow above is one of the African subspecies.
The Zoo also has a Serval (Felis serval), another African cat, but ‘mid-sized’. I couldn’t get a good photo, but the vdeo gives you some idea of the appearance of this spotted cat. Note the short tail and large ears. His name is Amos.
I also saw one of the Zoo’s Jaguars (Panthera onca), but couldn’t get a good picture. This is not a great shot of their two Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), either– they were outdoors, and fairly far away. But they seemed so relaxed, I decided to post it anyway.
Cheetahs, like Lions, were once widely distributed in Africa and Asia. The Asian Cheetah was thought extinct, but was documented to still exist by camera-traps in Iran.
On this visit, I paid closer attention to the Zoo’s ‘big cat kitchen’, which is visible through a window, than I have on previous occasions.
I’ve visited the kitchen at the Racine Zoo. Not visible in this photo, but an important part of the kitchen’s tools from what I’ve seen in Racine, are the big knives used for cutting up the prepared diets, and the special protective gloves the keepers wear to protect their hands and fingers when doing so. There were two commercial diets visible on the counter: Toronto Zoo Feline Diet (which is horse meat, I believe)
and Nebraska Brand Feline Diet (this particular version is beef; the Zoo also uses a horse-based diet from Nebraska Brand).
Also visible in the kitchen is a board which displays the daily ‘menus’ for each cat, along with their names. (That’s how I know the Serval is Amos. The male Lion must be Themba, the Siberian that I photographed is probably Kashtan, and both Cheetahs, Kira and Imara, are in the picture, but I don’t know which is which.) So, just as Jerry has been sharing his shipboard menus, here are the cat menus– click to enlarge!