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Five orphaned tiger cubs ready to get back to the wild from rehab center

It takes at least 1.5 million rubles a year to prepare wild animals for their return to the taiga

VLADIVOSTOK, February 12. /ITAR-TASS/. Five orphaned tiger cubs found ill in Ussuri taiga a year-and-a-half ago and brought to a rehab center in Primorye, in Russia’s Far East, will be able to get back into the wild in three months, the director of the Tiger inspectorate, Vitaly Timchenko, told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

The return to the nature in the wild of five tigers at once is a unique event. It takes at least 1.5 million rubles a year to prepare wild animals for their return to the taiga, to say nothing about daily work by zoologists, ecologists and vets.

Two female and three male cubs, named Borya, Kuzya, Ustin, Svetlaya and Ilona, have been taught to hunt for pray and kill it and have been acquainted with wild inhabitants of the taiga. Now their education is almost finished, and the cub tigers are ready to take their “final exams”, Vitaly Timchenko told Tass.

He said the tigers were about two years old, the age when cubs leaved their mothers’ care in the wild, and they were ready to get back to nature in the wild in about three months.

Now specialists choose the area where they will live, as it must have enough hoofed animals.

Money for the tiger cubs has come from Russian and international environmental foundations and sponsors. President Vladimir Putin allocated 15 million roubles for that program from the reserve fund of the head of state.

The rehab center for tigers and other rare species was opened more than two years ago near the settlement of Alekseyevka, Primorye. So far only one wild animal has been returned to the wild, young tigress Zolushka, who last May settled down in Bastak Nature Reserve in Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Area. The tigress feels at home and has already found a couple - male tiger Strannik. Environmentalists are looking forward to their offspring.

There are about 450 Amur tigers on the world’s Red Book of Endangered Species. About 95% of them live in Primorye and in the south of the Khabarovsk region, also in Russia’s Far East.