Toy tiger used to nurse orphaned cubs back to health

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Credit: lagerardiere

Park rangers at a tiger reserve in India came up with a unique way to nurse three orphaned cubs.

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The rangers at the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh have fitted a stuffed toy tiger with synthetic nipples and milk bottles for the cubs to feed from, CNN reported.

"When the calf of a buffalo dies, villagers will use a dummy calf to get milk from the buffalo. It's the smell of the calf which stimulates the lactation in the mother," Mridul Pathak, a field director at Bandhavgarh reserve where the cubs were taken for rehabilitation, told CNN.

The cubs were discovered 150 miles away in Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve on Jan. 19, three days after the body of their mother was found buried in a riverbank.

She was killed after walking across a rudimentary electrical fence set up by farmers, rangers told CNN.

The tigress was identified as "T1" and, according to records, she had given birth to three cubs in December.

The cubs were close to death when they were brought to Bandhavgarh.

"They were starving and not even able to walk properly. Had we not reacted immediately, they would have died," Pathak told CNN.

The cubs have been feeding from the stuffed animal since.

Pathaks told CNN that his plan is to release the cubs into the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, which has a population of 85 tigers.