Tigers and pigs … together?
Tigers lying down placidly with pigs—what is going on here? Aren’t tigers supposed to be ferocious killer carnivores? And why are these pigs so unconcerned?
Most people would be astonished to see these photographs. But for staff at Thailand’s Sriracha Zoo, renowned for its tiger-breeding program,1 such scenes are an everyday occurrence. How can this be?
The zoo, in the Sriracha District in eastern Chonburi Province, employs a unique technique to speed up the growth of tiger cubs. Very simply, the zoo uses pig milk … suckled direct from a domestic sow by the cubs themselves!2
The zoo’s success with this innovative approach shows that tiger cubs thrive on pigs’ milk, with much faster growth rates than if raised on tiger milk alone.3 Since 1997, when the zoo began raising tigers this way, 300 Bengali tigers are now reported to have ‘graduated’ from the breeding program.4
Who would have ever imagined that such ferocious carnivores could be nursed by mother pigs? In fact, the zoo says that tigers raised in such a manner grow up much calmer than if nursed by their natural mothers—as these astonishing photos seem to indicate. Visitors have affirmed that, in several areas in the zoo, one can clearly see tiger cubs snuggling up to mother pigs and freely intermingling with piglets. ‘Amazingly they played and seemed to enjoy each other’s company very much.’5
People’s reactions of ‘Amazing!’, ‘Incredible!’ etc., on seeing these scenes at Sriracha Zoo very much reflect the fact that we have become desensitized to carnivory in the world. That is, we have become conditioned to think that it is perfectly ‘natural’ for a strong and swift animal such as a lion or tiger to prey upon a weaker animal such as a young gazelle or oryx or, for that matter, a juicy fat piglet.6
But there was a brief time, before Adam sinned, when indeed tigers and piglets, lions and calves, wolves and lambs (or at any rate the pre-Flood representatives of their respective kinds7) freely mingled peaceably together—a time before carnivory, pain and death.8 And, amazing as it might sound to people accustomed to a world suffering the effects of the Curse, the Bible tells us of such a time to come (Isaiah 11:6; 65:25).
References and notes
- Sriracha Tiger Zoo, tigerzoo.com, 29 May 2003. Return to text
- International Zoo News 47/7(304) [downloaded from zoonews.ws, 29 May 2003], October/November 2000. Return to text
- Wannabovorn S., Tiger Zoo Thrives as Thai Economy Dives, forests.org, 29 May 2003. Return to text
- ABC Action News, Creating a Calmer Tiger, abclocal.go.com, 3 June 2003. Return to text
- Ratware, Tiger Encounters, ratware.plus.com, 3 June 2003. Return to text
- The worldwide reaction to reports of a grown lioness in the wild protectively ‘adopting’ and giving affection to baby oryxes was another case in point. See Echoes of Eden, Creation 24(4):14–15, 2002. Return to text
- Animals have diversified, even speciated, within the limits of the information in their kind since creation. Tigers, lions, leopards, etc. probably came from one original ‘cat kind’, so at first there would have been no ‘tigers’ as such. See Ligers and wholphins? What next?, Creation 22(3):28–33, 2000. Return to text
- The scenes at Sriracha Zoo demonstrate that if nutritional needs are satisfied, there is no need to hunt. Before the Fall and curse on the ground (Genesis 3:17–19), plants were an adequate diet (Genesis 1:30). Return to text