Critically endangered tiger cubs Zac and Crispin have caused a splash in their private London Zoo lido this week, as a late summer heatwave hits the capital.
Stunning new photos show the family of four – mum Gaysha, dad Asim, and 15-month-olds Zac and Crispin – practicing their swimming skills in the cool water as London expects to reach over 30C over the coming days.
Unlike most felines, tigers love water and make excellent swimmers thanks to their webbed paws.
“Zac and Crispin only learnt to swim this summer but they’re experts already – they're spending a lot of time splashing around in their pool this week, or lounging around at the water’s edge. It’s been amazing to see.”
Sumatran tigers are the world’s rarest subspecies of tiger, with only 300 individuals estimated left in the wild. These beautiful big cats are unfortunately threatened by illegal hunting, as well as habitat destruction in their native Indonesia.
The Sumatran tigers at London Zoo are part of an important global breeding programme for the species, coordinated by the conservation zoo, designed to protect and boost their numbers - while ZSL, the international conservation charity behind London Zoo, works to protect tigers and other threatened species in the wild.
Elsewhere at the conservation zoo, keepers have come up with ingenious ways to keep the 14,000 animals cool as temperatures soar, offering up everything from healthy fruit tea ice lollies to refreshing hose pipe showers.
“Many of the animals have private pools like Zac and Crispin, and enjoy taking an invigorating dip when the weather heats up,” explained Kate Sanders. “Our colony of 72 Humboldt penguins have over 13,000 sq. ft of crystal-clear water in the UK’s largest penguin pool while pygmy hippos, Thug and Amara, can swap their hippo hot tub for their fresh-water moat on warm days like today.
“When we saw this week’s weather forecast, we also wasted no time making healthy ice lollies as late summer treats for the animals - all zoo nutritionist-approved. Our troop of Critically Endangered Western lowland gorillas go wild for frozen sugar-free fruit tea, the squirrel monkeys love to excavate nuts and veggies from blocks of ice, while the Humboldt penguins are particularly keen on frozen sprats.”
Every animal at the conservation zoo enjoys cool indoor dens, and sheltered spots in their outdoor homes, so they can choose to sunbathe or sit in the shade at their leisure.
“Many of the animals we care for are naturally adapted to warm weather anyway, such as the meerkats, who even have their own sunglasses – black circles around their eyes which absorb the sun’s glare,” added Kate.