The tiger rescue was the first large scale rescue that Wildlife Alliance orchestrated after arriving in 1999.
We received a tip off there were tigers being kept in a residence close to the Central Market in Phnom Penh city and on arrival confiscated 7 tigers, likely held for sale to the black market!
We confiscated all 7 tigers, but unfortunately one of them passed away during transit due to the abuse she had suffered. We were left with 6 tigers – 3 male and 3 female – with DNA tests confirming they were hybrid tigers. Hybrid tigers are cats that have had two sub species bred together, with our tigers Indochinese and Bengal hybrids.
After determining they were hybrids we paired the males and females together for companionship in three separate enclosures. Usually solitary animals, males housed together would fight over territory, as would females, however males and females territories do overlap for mating and they learned to get along! Two of them got along a little too well and Areang was a happy surprise to one of the couples. Areang is a hybrid offspring of hybrid tigers, and as such you can really see the effects of cross breeding. He is not able to keep weight on his back side. He almost looks like he is two different tigers – one in the front and one in the back.
Tigers also would typically have a very steady and confident gait. The entire body would remain steady and stealthy when they walk. You can see in our tigers and especially Areang that they have a swagger in their hips. They are not good candidates for release as these health issues mean they would be unable to hunt in the wild, with the females subsequently put on oral contraception (the pill for tigers!) to avoid further breeding, as we do not ever want to breed for a life in captivity!
Our three females and one of the males passed away in the last two years from old age. The two boys Doowit and Doonow are turning 18 this year, with Areang turning 14! Natural life spans are 10-12 years, with tigers in captivity often living 15-20.
Areang was rejected by his parents at birth and was hand raised and bottle fed by keeper Mr. Rong. Even with this very close relationship he will still not go into the enclosure with him.
The den is their safe area, and for their safety this is where they are kept at night. All of the animals with high price tags on their heads are kept in a safe area over night, and there are also staff who patrol the area through the night.