Caturday felid trifecta; Tiger, Lion, Serval, and Cheetahs (our four felids are…)

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 Tiger, Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

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.

Siberian Tiger, Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

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.

Lion at the Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

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 at the Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

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.

The present and former range of the Cheetah.

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.

The Big Cat Country kitchen at the Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

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)

Toronto Zoo Feline Diet.

and Nebraska Brand Feline Diet (this particular version is beef; the Zoo also uses a horse-based diet from Nebraska Brand).

Nebraska Brand Feline Diet (image flipped to allow easier label reading).

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!

Daily big cat “menus” at the Milwaukee Zoo.

14 Comments

  1. Jon Gallant
    Posted November 16, 2019 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Permit me to recommend John Vaillant’s
    “The Tiger” (1910). Surrounding an account of the hunt for an Amur tiger which had turned man-eater (a very atypical case), he gives a fascinating overview of the ecology, sociology, and history of the Primorsky Krai region of southeast Siberia. My friend Tanya, who grew up there, attests to its accuracy.

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted November 16, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Nice pics Greg

    [MENU IMAGE BELOW] I notice all the lions get fed twice, but breakfast [AM DIET in blue] is substantially smaller than the main meal [PM DIET in green]. All the lions have nice names whereas of course the hyenas only get the main meal & have been given names like “Scruffy” – the Disney Discrimination Effect in action!

    Among the tigers, Kashtan is fed only the main meal [but large portion] whereas Amba & Tula get fed twice – I expect Kashtan sleeps through breakfast & Frasier repeats, being the boss male, while the other two girls are up at all hours ‘catching prey’, dusting the den & nursing the young. Some animal[s] gets extra fibre when shedding, that’ll be Kashtan I expect – I’d lose my fur too if I had to hang with those gossips Amba & Tula all day.

    diet

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 16, 2019 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      And the Red Panda diet is in the black fridge.

  3. Posted November 16, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    My brother took his very young kid to the Milwaukee Zoo, and one of the tigers stalked and pounced on the kid, but of course hit the glass instead of the tasty morsel just outside.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 16, 2019 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      I’m glad for the happy ending.

  4. Mark R.
    Posted November 16, 2019 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the felid fix Greg. That Siberian Tiger is magnificent! 🐅

  5. Posted November 16, 2019 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    I just watched a male lion kill a matriarch hyena, this individual sacrficed itself for one of its group (injured in a fracas with a wildebeest kill) not for munching on though, as he just walked off and left it, less competition? traditional enemy? this matriach was one fearless hyena and role model.
    It was I suspect, edited to show this, so who knows.
    After her death the ex matriachs’ daughter took on two very healthy leòpards for a kill made by one of them, twice! and got it, bloody hell.
    Cats in a zoo dont know how… eh, ‘lucky’ they are.

  6. Posted November 16, 2019 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Great news when an animal thought to be extinct gets rediscovered. Recently the Chevrotain, or Mouse-deer, was photographed in a Vietnamese forest. The first time it has been seen in thirty years.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 16, 2019 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Good to see the Nebraska Beef packing. Did not know they were doing the food for big cats. Long time ago I worked for a trucking company in Omaha that mostly hauled boxed and swinging meat to the east coast.

  8. Posted November 16, 2019 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Bragging rights to the first person who gets and comments on the Monty Python reference.

    GCM

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 17, 2019 at 2:49 am | Permalink

      Hmmm. I think you’re getting at having four kitties in what’s supposed to be three!

      Caturday felid trifecta; Tiger, Lion, Serval, and Cheetahs (our four felids are…)
      Ximinez:

      NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again.

  9. Derek Freyberg
    Posted November 16, 2019 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, but hardly surprising, that the zoo “big cat” diet is mostly raw meat; yet commercial feline diets, such as the one we feed our cat, are not.
    50+ years ago, when I was a child and we had a pet cat, its diet was mostly raw meat – as I recall, the local butcher even sold “cat meat”, offcuts from meat otherwise intended for human consumption.
    Now, cats would be lucky to see raw meat, it’s “kitty bitties” from one company or the other -but it is fortified with this-and-that that the cat doesn’t get from the mice that it might have caught, had it not become an indoor pet.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 17, 2019 at 2:57 am | Permalink

      Raw meat lying around the home can be a bit dodgy for the hoomans – especially kids.

  10. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted November 18, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    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.

    Because the tiger’s range is in the south-east of the basin of the Amur river. East of 128deg E. The western 69 deg of longitude of “Siberia” (including three river basins of multi-million sq.km scale) are not part of it’s range and historically never have been.
    69 deg of longitude .. that’s about the distance from Seattle to Newfoundland. Or Lisbon to the Aral (former) Sea. Kuala Lumpur to Auckland, to go over the heads of Australians.


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