The Comeback Cub

For the first time ever, orphaned Amur tigers are being rehabilitated and released back into the wild in an effort to bolster the dwindling population.

February 05, 2015

“One of the uncomfortable realities of tranquilizing big predators is that their eyes remain mostly open. Zolushka, now weighing more than 200 pounds, was rolled onto a stretcher and carried to a nearby truck. Fourteen hours later, the vehicle arrived at the release site. The door on Zolushka’s crate was lifted remotely. She sniffed around uneasily and then, her truncated tail extended, she leapt down and waded into the brush. From his home in Terney, Miquelle watched the GPS data for evidence that Zolushka had passed a vital test: her first kill in the wild. At the Alekseevka Center, her prey had been fenced in as certainly as Zolushka herself; here, it could run for miles, and tigers tire easily. Zolushka would have to be patient and cunning. Otherwise, she’d die.”

—From “Can the Siberian Tiger Make a Comeback?,” Matthew Shaer’s Smithsonian story about an experimental effort to save most endangered species on the planet (so far, it looks promising)

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