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22 June 2015

Exotic breeds of big cats are Subic theme park’s new residents

This most visited tourist destination in Central Luzon will likely capture more curious visitors and animal lovers with the arrival here of four specimens of two "new” breeds of big cats, the so-called “ligers” and “tigons.”

The Zoobic Safari theme park, which already houses various exotic animals from all over the world, welcomed on Friday the new residents who were flown in from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia said the new attractions at Zoobic Safari will tremendously boost tourism in the Freeport, as they are reputed to be among the few specimens in the country today.

“There are really lots of new things to see and experience in Subic,” he said. “Now, we have rare animals that you can only see in just a few places in the world, and Subic is one of them.”

According to Dr. Norilyn Molleno, the resident veterinarian at Zoobic Safari, ten crates of animals arrived on Thursday by plane from the UAE. The crates contained three lions, three lionesses, and the new breeds—two “ligers” and two “tigons”, all about two years old on the average.

Molleno explained that “ligers” are offsprings of a male lion and a female tiger, while tigons are crossbreeds of a male tiger and a female lion.

“They also have names. The tigons are ‘Togo’ and ‘Baby,’ while the ligers are ‘Neema’ and ‘Princess’,” she said.

Ligers may weigh up from 800 to 1,000 kilograms in adulthood at about three years old. They are bigger than the tigons, which weigh only from 500 to 800 kilograms. But both are bigger, however, than purebred tigers and lions.

Molleno added that the big cats are donations from a sheikh in the UAE who wishes to remain anonymous.

The sheikh donated the animals to Zoobic Safari in Subic for educational purposes, but only after confirming that the facility has the capability to handle and take good care of the animals.

“Accidental crossbreeding happens in the wild, and it is a good idea that the public should know that it is possible to happen,” she said, adding that these animals need facilities to house them.

The lady veterinarian added that Subic is lucky to have the animals since they could easily adapt to the local environment, which has almost the same temperature as that of the Middle East.

Two years ago, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum also donated lions and lionesses for the theme park, which are now among the major attractions here.

Zoobic Safari is located in the 25-hectare Forest Adventure Park at the former Naval Magazine area of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

The theme park houses the Zoobic Park, a two-hectare forest full of exotic, wild and semi-domesticated animals in their simulated natural habitat; Savannah, a wildlife sanctuary that contains ostriches, potbellies, wild boars, and guinea fowls; and Tiger Safari, a closed area of full-grown tigers on the loose. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS:
[1] A “liger,” which is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger, lets out a roar before emerging from the crate during its arrival at the Zoobic Safari theme park in Subic Bay Freeport on Friday. Two “ligers” and two “tigons”, along with six lions, were donated by a sheikh from the United Arab Emirates, and will be part of the theme park’s “Kings of the Jungle” exhibit. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[2] “Neema,” one of two ligers that arrived at the Zoobic Safari theme park in Subic Bay Freeport on Friday, is coached into its pen at the park. Two “ligers” and two “tigons”, along with six lions, were donated by a sheikh from the United Arab Emirates, and will be part of the theme park’s “Kings of the Jungle” exhibit. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

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