Series following British tiger expert Giles Clark as he hand rears sumatran tiger cubs at home. The cubs struggle through their first crucial weeks.
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Meet the rarest cubs in the world.
These baby Sumatran tigers offer real hope
for the future of their critically endangered species.
Hey, aren't you beautiful?
For their first four months,
they'll be growing up in a suburban Australian family home...
..where they'll be completely reliant on their foster dad,
tiger expert Giles Clarke.
I want people to fall in love with these cubs,
I want people to want to help us save them in the wild.
This is a unique and intimate look at the growing pains
of the most important captive tiger cubs on earth.
-In this episode...
-I'm going to go home with her.
..when the cubs are born...
My heart is in my mouth.
..Giles takes on the toughest parenting job of his life.
It's hard work being a tiger daddy.
And these tigers struggle through
the first crucial weeks of their lives.
They're both sick and I don't know why.
Can this zookeeper from Middlesex give these superstar cubs
the start they need
and help save their species from the brink of extinction?
Giles Clarke is a zookeeper with a lot on his plate.
It's too early for barking!
As well as two boisterous children...
You need to wake up!
-What's on the agenda at school today?
-I don't know.
..a couple of dogs...
-Make sure he sits.
-..and one of these...
-This is my pet snake.
-Love you. You have a good day.
-..he deals with some wilder creatures at work.
-He's a wombat.
They do look like big rodents, don't they? Although they are small,
I've seen these guys knock over fully grown men.
Not me, no. I work with tigers.
Giles works with Sumatran tigers, and with less
than 500 left in the wild, they are critically endangered.
Tigers are just, by their sheer definition, the most
awe-inspiring, amazing creature that I think has ever walked this planet.
He runs the Tiger Department
at Australia Zoo in Queensland, Eastern Australia.
And they have a special approach to managing the animals.
Do you like the kangaroos? You can feed them today.
The zoo's philosophy is that if people can see
and touch the animals, they will want to help conserve them
in the wild, and this includes nine tigers under Giles' care.
Apex predators weighing up to 130 kilos.
Like any animal, they have their good days...
Ah, there she goes!
..and they have those days where they've just woken up
on the wrong side of the straw.
What's up, big fella? You're so grumpy.
But there is one special tiger here who could be forgiven
for having a few mood swings.
So, this is Kaitlyn, this is our expectant mum-to-be.
Look at the size of that belly!
Six-year-old Kaitlyn is just days away from giving birth to
the first Sumatran tigers ever born at the zoo.
And Giles is watching her closely.
Just going to go and take some blood from, um, Kaitlyn.
So, just another routine check, monitoring her progesterone level.
So, I'm just putting the kit together, ready,
so I don't have to mess about when we go in with her.
A very relaxed Kaitlyn has allowed Giles to take blood
throughout her pregnancy.
And the latest test shows her progesterone levels are dropping,
which is a good indication that the birth is imminent.
Giles is only able to get this close to Kaitlyn
because of the special hands-on relationship he has with his tigers.
I have contact with my cats,
because I truly believe that it gives them the best
quality of lifestyle that they could possibly have in captivity.
We, as handlers, will go into the same area as the tigers,
where we will do various things with them, most importantly,
we can actually move all of those cats around,
which then even allows us to take them outside of our compound.
The reasons why we do these walks just speak volumes for themselves.
The cats love it and it really is about giving them
a whole variety of stimulus that they otherwise just normally
wouldn't get if we were to keep them in one enclosure their entire lives.
So, this is Juma that we are walking this morning.
Juma is one of our oldest cats,
he is now nine and a half years of age,
so well and truly fully grown.
Juma is one of the most laid-back individuals that we have.
He never likes to be rushed, he is a very chilled-out character.
Giles started working closely with tigers in his teens.
So, yeah, the first time I ever walked a tiger was at a zoo,
when I was 16, back in England.
I was hooked then, I knew I wanted to work with tigers, I knew that
I wanted to ultimately do what I do now, you know,
it's a dream come true.
Training to achieve this level of mutual trust starts
when the tigers are cubs and has to be continually reinforced.
So, ultimately, we want the walks to be really positive for them,
and so, we afford them quite a lot of freedom,
they get to generally go in the direction that he wants to go in
and do the things that he wants to do, but there is a very clear
understanding that he has to respect the handlers.
We've got a certain set of not only voice commands,
but in techniques that we use through the leash that we can manage that.
There needs to be a certain level of understanding
and compromise on both parts.
I know, mate. This is what it is.
Going off-road now, so we're going bush bashing.
Which is good for him.
It's not so good for us!
Kaitlyn has had to miss her daily walk.
She has an appointment with Mel, the vet.
We are doing an ultrasound today, we are probably only
days off the birth, so just looking for a really strong heartbeat.
The average size of a tiger litter is between two and four cubs.
Here we go!
Yeah, everyone has got their bets on, on the day, how many cubs
and, you know, how many boys, how many girls.
So, we won't know until it happens. But it's pretty exciting.
Mel can't get close to Kaitlyn, as she doesn't have her trust,
so it's down to Giles and his team to do the hands-on work.
-Let's have a look...
-Straightaway, we're on a cub.
-I can see the skull, the spine.
-Can't miss them any more.
That's awesome. OK.
So, you are actually seeing glimpses of the airway coming down,
then that's the heart there.
Stay still, mate.
-There was two spines there, together, weren't there?
-Yeah, there was.
They are so big that they don't even fit on the screen any more.
Almost brings a lump to my throat to think that, you know,
these guys are going to be with us soon, you know, part of the family.
-Good girl. Hey, there's a little bit left if you want it.
-Are you done?
Shall we call it quits?
KAITLYN BURPS Aww! Pardon you! Have a burp.
That's really funny!
-I was happy with what we saw again.
-Yeah, it was cool.
But this is no ordinary pregnancy.
Kaitlyn's unborn cubs have global significance.
In the jungles of Sumatra, tigers are a critically endangered species.
Fewer than 500 remain in the wild.
The main threat is poaching, for traditional medicine.
And at the present rate of decline,
the wild population could be wiped out within a decade.
So, the captive population represents an insurance policy
But there is a problem.
So, if we look at outside of Indonesia,
if you were to look at all the Sumatran tigers in captivity...
originally came from 13 or 14 individuals.
There is only so many times that you can have combinations of
breeding those individuals before you start to get incidents of inbreeding.
But Kaitlyn is different.
She came from a zoo in Indonesia and represents a brand-new bloodline.
She is ranked number one in the world for captive females
It means her future cubs will be royalty in the tiger world.
But they have yet to be born.
And it's been a long wait.
Tigers generally have a gestation period of about 100 to 110 days.
So, what we started doing, as of a couple of days ago,
on about day 95, was watching her throughout the night.
It seems to be getting harder and harder for her to get
comfortable to lie on one side for any period of time.
There is a certain air,
I suppose, of feeling like you're just about like an expectant father
again, you've got that excitement and that anticipation, you know.
I want to know how many there are, I want to know what sex they are,
most importantly I want to make sure that Mum is going to be OK
and that she accepts them.
I don't think she is as excited as what we are as handlers,
she is taking it all very much in her stride!
And she is probably going to be very nonchalant
when the event happens, in comparison to us.
It is 9am at Tiger Base and Kaitlyn's contractions have started.
Um, it's close. Really close. It's imminent.
I'm going to go home with her, so I'll leave someone behind for her.
-You want someone in there with you?
-Right, cool, we can do that.
I'm here at the moment because Kaitlyn's started to show us
signs of labour.
If things progress for a very long time,
if Kaitlyn shows us that she is in pain
and she's really struggling and that she can't actually give birth
to these cubs, then there's a chance that we might have to intervene.
Worst-case scenario that we would have to anaesthetise her
and do a Caesarean section.
Giles is so concerned about the safety of Kaitlyn
and her cubs that he is not going to leave her side.
But he is taking a great personal risk.
Although used to him, Kaitlyn is a powerful, fully grown tiger
and could behave unpredictably.
Giles has a really close relationship with Kaitlyn
and I think he probably knows how to read her better than anybody else.
But in a circumstance like this, she's never given birth before,
this is all new for her,
and instincts are going to come into play.
We really can't predict whether she is going to get upset with him,
or whether she will totally accept him.
It could be a dangerous situation.
But as the hours tick by, Kaitlyn seems to accept Giles' presence.
I'm pretty pleased with the way that she is going
and the way things are progressing.
She's very happy and comfortable to have myself
and the other handlers around, so that's a good
indication that we might be here for when she actually gives birth.
So, I think at the moment, this is first-stage labour,
this could go on for quite a few hours,
her just feeling small contractions and being a bit uncomfortable,
a bit huffy with her breathing.
Then, it's not until we see her do those real big efforts again
that I think we'll call that second stage,
then we will be keeping a close eye on the time.
It's now four o'clock in the afternoon
and Kaitlyn has been in labour, on and off, for the last five hours.
We've just finished a period where there was
a couple of hours of not really much activity.
She's just getting to the point now where
she is having some pretty regular and strong contractions.
Kaitlyn is entering the advanced stages of labour.
Good girl, well done.
'Copy. So, when she has a contraction, it's time to emerge.'
-Don't touch it!
This is the amniotic sac, which means there is a cub on the way.
A cub with the sac just burst around it. Now we can see a face.
Here we go, mate.
Come on, lick it. Lick it, lick it, lick it, lick it.
The sensation of Kaitlyn's licking should trigger the cub's lungs
to start working.
-Giles, is she licking that?
-Yes, she is now.
It has gasped three times, but it's not breathing properly yet.
Her licking it will stimulate it to breathe.
I still feel like we should get in there and give her a hand.
'Copy, Giles. Leave, please leave.'
She's licking its face.
She needs to clear whatever liquid is in the mouth.
That is just leave her be for the moment.
It's been two minutes, and although the cub has made some
weak attempts, it still hasn't started breathing properly.
It's gasping. It's not breathing.
OK, it's breathing. One, two, three breaths. Four.
Good girl! You did so well. She did very well. There we go.
She knows what to do.
So the cub just made its first ever noise, a little squeal-out to Mum.
Mum looked surprised if anything.
He's a beautiful ten-minute-old cub.
That's incredible, isn't it? Man, my heart was in my mouth.
That's a good girl.
For a first-time mum she's doing an amazing job,
and it's really hard just to sit back here and let her get on with it.
She's starting to have contractions
in preparation for the second one to arrive.
There's the sac you can see coming out.
-Well done. Good girl.
-Doing so well.
Good girl! Well done.
There we go.
This one's come out kicking and screaming! Good girl!
This is absolutely amazing.
It's two males. And Kaitlyn is allowing Giles to share the moment.
One's up and about.
You're so good. You're so amazing. Good girl.
But six hours later
and the initial excitement has been replaced by anxiety.
While energetic cub number two is drinking well,
the first-born has yet to latch on to Kaitlyn for milk.
And fearing the worst, Giles decides to intervene.
He has no idea how Kaitlyn will react,
so fellow handler Dave is on hand in case things go wrong.
WHISPERS: Thanks, man.
Both cubs are now drinking
and the immediate danger has passed.
I feel drained, emotional... excited...
But the global importance of these two cubs for the future
of their species means nothing will be left to chance.
Next morning, and the cubs are doing well.
There we go.
Two little boys!
They are a healthy 1.2 kilograms each.
And as the days roll by,
the cubs continue to thrive under Giles's watchful eye.
We try and spend a little bit of time with them every day.
It's really important,
because from day one we've been building a bond with them.
And the fact that they just get used to hearing my voice
and the sensation of being touched and picked up is really good.
His eyes are still completely closed. This is day eight, but...
-It's usually between six and 12.
Are you going to stay still for just a second?
-See? They are growing.
-That's 200 grams again in the day.
So they are only 12 days old
and they've already doubled their birth weight.
The stronger and bigger you get,
the better your chance of survival in the wild.
I just noticed that one little eye was open.
Which is awesome. You can see me now, sort of.
Well, you can see a shadow anyway.
For the first couple of weeks they're not going to be able
to focus properly.
Like a human baby it takes a few weeks for the eyes to adjust.
Two weeks later, the cubs are growing stronger
and it's time for Giles to give them names.
If you look at the two of them together,
this little chap has more of a continuous stripe going
along this way, whereas this one is a bit more broken, like a spot.
So we're calling this one Spot for the time being, and this one Stripe.
He tends to have a bit more of a feisty character than his brother.
He's going to be a challenge, I can see already.
See what I mean about being stroppy? Aren't ya? Yeah.
That's good, you've got spirit.
This is the one we are calling Spot.
This little chap was the first one born and he was the one that,
for the first couple of hours, we were worried about.
He had a tougher time. Didn't you?
He's nearly the same weight as his brother now.
Despite their good health, life for young tigers is precarious.
Globally, over a third of captive-born Sumatran cubs
won't make it to adulthood.
You need to relax, like your brother.
Giles has made a difficult decision to safeguard the cubs' future.
You're going to pass with flying colours, buddy.
He's going to hand-raise them himself at home,
so he can give them 24-hour care.
And Mel the vet has come to check if they are healthy enough to leave.
The heart sounds really good. Steady beat, no murmurs.
And he's so relaxed!
We're starting off with such robust, healthy little cubs.
They're not too young.
They've already got so much strength in them.
The cubs will be vulnerable to illness
until they are around six weeks old.
So Giles has got to keep a close eye on them round the clock.
There is an awful lot of pressure, you know.
First and foremost, there is pressure
because these guys are so important to not only us here at the zoo,
but also to the breeding programme.
Potentially, a lot of eyes around the world are watching
what we're doing and making sure we do a good job.
We'll give it a good go, eh? We'll give it a good go. You're so funny!
Hand-raising the cubs will also prepare them
for their future lives at the zoo.
These guys are never going back into the wild so, for me,
the fact that we hand-rear these guys,
they're going to be much, much better adjusted animals
and, ultimately, much more suitable for a life in captivity.
At home, the family TV room has been transformed into a nursery.
Remove the spare bed out.
And wife Kerri is bracing herself for having tiger cubs in the house.
Hopefully, nothing will get trashed. Maybe the walls...
maybe chewing on the windowsill, but hopefully nothing else!
There's things I know they are going to want to get into,
and some things you're resigned to the fact that you're going to have
a bit of damage, a bit of sacrificing maybe,
and some things I'm going to keep my eye on
and make sure they don't get into. But generally they should be OK.
But Kerri's bigger concern is exactly who is going to
be on call to look after the new house guests.
How are you going to wake up in the middle of the night?
-Either with your help or I'm going to have...
-My knees and elbows?
Yeah, that's right. Some gentle persuasion.
"Honey, the babies need feeding!"
Or we're going to have to set several alarms.
He'll be OK.
It'll be fine.
The next morning, preparations are getting under way at the zoo.
-We'll get her.
-OK, you tell me when she's gone.
Giles is going to be taking the cubs home today, and the handlers
have devised a strategy to help make the move go smoothly.
They are going to take Kaitlyn for one of her daily walks
so she isn't there when the cubs leave.
It might help to make the transition a lot smoother for her.
He just wants to keep the noise away from Kaitlyn.
The more stress we can alleviate, the better.
Let's get you out here and then we'll talk to you when we get home, eh?
Good boys. We'll see you at the other end.
The cubs will eventually see Kaitlyn and the other tigers again
after they return to the zoo in a few months.
I won't lie, there is
a twinge of sadness after seeing just how dedicated Kaitlyn is.
And obviously she's going to come back off her walk
and have to come to the realisation that her cubs are no longer there.
But then she'll get on with life,
and that's exactly what they would do in the wild.
Cubs being killed or taken by other predators happens all the time,
and they are incredibly good at adapting
and getting on with it quickly.
It starts here. The cubs are doing really, really well.
They are fit, strong, healthy.
You can see little glimmers of their personalities start
to shine through in the last few days. It's going to be good fun.
It's going to be hard work. I think it's worth it.
Giles's children are still at school,
giving him a chance to settle the cubs in.
To help that process, he's made them a den-like enclosure
and brought home something with Kaitlyn's scent on.
I'm just going to put some of this straw...into the box...
Again, just so they've got a bit of familiarity,
with the sensation and the smell. CUB SCREECHES
There are two excited members of the family
who won't be meeting the cubs just yet.
I think Ruby and Caesar know you're here now!
There we go.
OK, little guys. You hang out in there for a while.
You're off. You're so mobile.
It's OK, boys.
Lodger and zoo volunteer Joe has been eagerly awaiting their arrival.
Last night I was like a little kid waiting for Christmas.
It was like Christmas Eve and I wanted to go to sleep
so today came quicker, but I was too excited so I couldn't sleep.
Literally like a little child.
Such a boy! They look very comfortable.
It's good that they're happy in terms of, you know,
they're fast asleep, they're not stressed.
With the cubs settling in, the real work is about to begin.
I've also got a bag of formula and it's as close as it could
possibly get to Mum's milk without actually milking Mum.
It's a huge moment for me.
This is the first batch of what will be hundreds of litres
of milk that we'll make up over the next six months or so.
This is an actual purpose-made milk replacement formula for tiger cubs.
It's very high in fat content, but it also has pretty much everything
else that they need in this crucial part of their development.
All those different trace elements and vitamins.
You've got no idea as to how much, either in length of time or quantity,
that she is feeding them, because they fall asleep on her all the time.
So it might look like they're suckling for two hours,
but the majority of the time they're fast asleep
and they've either fallen off the teat or they're not even suckling.
-What do you reckon it tastes like?
-I've tasted it before but it's very bland.
-No, you can't drink any.
-It doesn't taste very nice.
Giles is going to be feeding the cubs on demand,
but he has no idea if the cubs will take to the formula milk.
Let's get started. I'm pretty excited.
He's going to try easy-going Spot first.
How're you feeling?
Obviously, this is the absolute first time they've ever experienced...
the bottle, the teat or anything,
so I'm not expecting them to be over-interested in it.
Here we go. Good boy. Come on.
Eh? There we go. It doesn't taste like Mum, does it?
It's not too bad, is it, buddy?
Not too bad.
Spot has barely touched the milk,
and highly strung second-born Stripe is even less keen.
They're still really just getting used to having us around.
Not quite ready, are you?
Tonight is going to be a long night. But that's fine.
That's totally what I was expecting.
We're going to let you rest and we'll come back.
Back at the zoo, handlers Dave and Geoff have been monitoring Kaitlyn.
When we took the cubs, we thought maybe she'd show
a bit of anxiety and want to know where they are.
At the moment she just seems more interested in just hanging out and
maybe going for a walk and enjoying the company of the handlers and...
It'll be good to see how she goes on the next few days, but it's definitely a good sign.
Obviously, the happier she is, the happier we are as well.
For anxious Giles, it's reassuring news.
OK, thanks, buddy. OK, see you.
It's such a relief. It's certainly a very good first step.
It's not just about the species or about conservation.
Those individual tigers matter and their individual welfare
and their needs.
And she's definitely fairly settled, fairly happy,
so it's looking really good.
It's 4pm and eight-year-old Kynan has rushed home from school
to meet the new house guests.
-Oh, how cute!
Aren't they cute?
It's love at first sight, too, for Kerri and daughter Alicia.
She didn't want any more brothers or sisters
-but these ones are different.
This one here is Spot.
Spot was the first one born and was smaller at first,
but now, believe it or not, he's bigger.
-Come on, play with me.
-No! THEY LAUGH
We are going to put him back, OK, guys? Because I want them to rest.
Because the most important thing for the next two days
is that I can get him on the bottle.
And once they are feeding, you can have all the cuddles
and strokes and patting and photos you want.
Although he looks very happy.
I'm giving him a head massage.
There we go.
It's a bit surreal, actually, to have them back here
and to think that we are right at the start of this amazing
next couple of months in the process of watching them grow
and having them at home and being part of the family.
It's 8pm and Kynan has found a replacement for the TV.
What are you doing? Don't keep waking them up.
He's going to sit and watch them.
I don't mind if you want to watch them, just don't wake them, OK?
You're very cute.
But it's been six hours since their last milk from Kaitlyn,
and if the cubs don't feed soon they could dehydrate.
They might be getting a little hungry now, which would be good.
So Giles is going to try dream-feeding the cubs,
giving them milk whilst they are still asleep.
Don't wake up.
You guys are going to be hard work, aren't you?
I thought it was going to go so smoothly.
But suddenly they get the idea.
Good boy! There we go. Good boy.
OK, have a break, have a break.
I didn't expect it so quick, so that's amazing, the fact
that we've already got our first feed into them only six hours in.
That's a really good start. That's a really good first step.
And once the cubs start drinking...
..there's no stopping them,
which is proving a little tiring for tiger daddy Giles.
They're feeding several times a day.
Ten past two.
Guzzling down over half a litre each daily.
-Are we going to feed them?
But luckily for him, this has become a family operation.
-Aw, rub it for good luck.
Not that Kerri seems to mind.
"Oh, my belly is so gorgeous. Rub it."
Let's leave them to it.
Mr Mum! Now he knows what it feels like to be a mum.
After ten years of marriage,
Kerri's got used to having tigers in their lives.
Uh...life with tigers is a little bit different - living with the Tigerman.
It's good. Kinda feels a bit surreal at the same time.
You sorta think...it's normal, but it's not.
-Not for anyone.
I run a zoo, so I don't need to work at one.
My house is a zoo.
Giles' parenting duties go beyond simply feeding the cubs.
They need his help at the other end, too.
-What we're going to do now...
-Is poo them.
-Yes, poo them.
-Is he the naughty one?
-They're both being a bit naughty.
Kerri's helping, but Giles is at the business end.
What would happen is Mum would normally come along and lick them...
..and that makes them go to the toilet.
Yeah, she licks them on the bottom.
-Phew! Big pop-off.
It's like milking a cow.
-Oh...reckon we've got half a litre...
Ah, hang on, let's see if we can get a poo going, please.
-It's always very...
Cos all he drinks is milk.
-What is it with you and the weeing?
The cubs are barely three weeks old, but they're already showing
a marked difference when it comes to being handled.
Yeah, this is awesome!
First-born Spot was held by Giles to latch on to Kaitlyn
when he was just hours old
and since then has reacted well to his touch.
Once you start being tactile with him, he responds really well,
like here, look, he's...
He's lying on his back, got his little belly in the air.
Yeah, Stripe's...Stripe's a little bit more aloof.
The cubs are now a month old.
It's now almost two weeks since Giles brought them home
and, like any new parent,
he's starting to get a bit ragged around the edges.
I'm starting to feel a bit sleep-deprived, um, and...
sort of running on my spare cylinder at the moment.
But it's a small sacrifice to pay, really,
to make sure things go well, you know?
Like, I'm so pleased with the way they've been progressing,
how easy it was to get them on the bottle.
There's been no dramas, no-one's...you know,
got the runs because of the formula or anything like that, so...
I think today's going to be a good day.
It's going to be another slog, though,
because he and the cubs have got to go back to the zoo for the day.
Spot and Stripe are having their first vaccinations,
to boost their immunity.
They've been away from Mum for a couple of weeks,
so they're not getting any of those antibodies coming through
the milk any more.
So that means we need to vaccinate them.
It's exactly what you would do with a domestic cat or domestic kitten.
And effectively, they won't even feel it, the needle's so small.
-Give him a rub.
Basically, we're asking the immune system to have a big reaction to this,
-so it can take it out of them a little bit, but...
..hopefully not too much.
So they'll be in tiger daycare, in the capable hands of Jeff.
OK, guys, have a little sleep, now.
That's a good idea.
Next door, there's ten adult tigers to look after.
Many take part in the zoo's daily tiger show.
Here we go!
Whoo! That deserves a round of applause.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
The tiger team aren't shy about using it as an opportunity
to engage the public with saving wild tigers in Sumatra.
Though, with so many other causes vying for attention,
it's not always easy.
But the stakes couldn't be higher.
It's not just saving the Sumatran tiger.
It's what they represent to me as well,
because if we can't save something as magnificent and as charismatic
and as popular as the tiger,
how do all those other endangered species even share half a chance?
Giles is hoping that the cubs will be a powerful new force
in the ongoing struggle to save their species.
The most important aspect, from my perspective,
is that we've got these amazing, tiny little beings at the moment,
but they're going to be such an amazing draw card to the zoo,
which is then going to have the on-flow benefit of the fact
that we can get the message out there about how endangered they are.
Giles has an appointment with marketing manager Emma
to see what she's come up with.
-Hey, how you going?
-Good, how are you?
So, this is what the creative looks like at the moment,
from "Our Cubs Are Coming!" point of view.
We've done whole-page takeovers on digital campaigns.
So, the third element of the campaign is all about conservation.
I think we can build a pretty strong conservation campaign.
-The reason we're doing all that is because of this.
It's important to be realistic and say,
"By the time it's 2020, tigers could be extinct,
"so by the time your kids grow up,
"they may never see a tiger in the wild."
..tiger cub, so when we're shooting that TVC,
we'll need a photographer there...
Emma's plan is to raise awareness of their plight
with a big media launch.
-I did set up a national television opportunity with the Today show on Channel
-9. Yeah, yeah.
So Stevie Jacobs is going to be around on that day,
so...could he hold the cub?
He could be there. I wouldn't let him feed, but he could be there
with myself or a handler, we could be talking about a feed or whatever.
-How are you feeling?
-Exhausted. I really am.
Like, four hours' sleep last night, four the night before,
three the night before that...
-I'm going to go home and sleep, soon.
-See you soon.
Giles looks pretty tired. It's the most exhausted I've ever seen him
and he is actually one of the hardest workers
I know on the planet.
That's a big load on his shoulders
and it's a really important mission for him in his life,
so this means a lot to him.
Despite the pressure, for Giles, back home with the cubs,
there's no doubt that it's worth it.
Yeah, we hear ya.
This is the calmest he's been for a while, eh?
I can't imagine...not, you know...
..having a world without tigers in the wild.
To me, it has got to work.
God forbid if it ever does happen and tigers do become extinct in the wild,
I certainly want to be able to put my head on the pillow at night
and think to myself, "Well, you know, I did everything I could,
"I gave it my best shot."
You know...wouldn't be able to live with myself
unless I thought I'd done everything I could.
OK, you are super relaxed, aren't you? That's just ridiculous.
and while it's an ordinary day at the zoo for the adult tigers,
things have taken a turn for the worse with Spot and Stripe.
Overnight they've fallen ill.
Giles has rushed them in to see Mel,
but in the last hour they've deteriorated.
OK, OK, OK...
They're both sick.
And I don't know why.
They were just being normal...
and then Spot was sick,
and now Stripe has got exactly the same.
I'm thinking of every...
situation, scenario that in the last 24 hours...
I feel responsible.
It's something that I've done or not done, or not overseen properly,
that is causing them to be sick, and that makes me feel gutted.
My fear is that ultimately whatever it is could lead to them...
..becoming much, much worse, and then, you know,
the consequences of that could be dire.
Just looking at that colour. It's still nice and pink.
All right, buddy.
Their hydration's still fine.
That's the most important thing for a young animal at the moment.
Oh, poor buddy.
Is that just more bile?
-No, nothing came up.
They don't sound very good, do they, even?
No, it sounds horrible.
So, what do you think, Mel?
Some sort of infection, or something?
I reckon the vaccine's probably pushed them over the edge
a little bit.
And something that they otherwise would have coped with
-has just been a bit too much to handle...
..on their bodies.
If you're happy with their hydration, which I am,
-that's - miss a feed.
-Yeah, I think miss a feed.
-And see what they're doing at lunchtime.
If they start vomiting more and losing a lot of fluid,
then young animals can get dehydrated more quickly.
Worst-case scenario, if they start getting a bit -
tenting in their skin, or their gums feel a bit dry,
we can give them sub-cut fluids.
I'm hoping we don't need to go down that path.
I'm not even worried about the programme, or...
The species is, you know... so important,
but all I care about at the moment is these two as individuals, you know?
It doesn't matter how...
what position they were ranked or anything else, there.
All right, buddy.
All Giles can do is stay at their side
and hope that they come through it.
Two hours later and the cubs have finally stopped vomiting.
Hey, you little munchkin!
"I don't feel well."
They come looking for the affection.
It's the same with our adults, you know?
They're very affectionate animals, and they love the attention.
You can see these two, at times, seem to be comforted by it.
When they see that you're in here, and they come next to you,
and you can tell, when you stroke them in certain spots,
their eyes close and they look like they're enjoying it.
It's the end of the afternoon, and the cubs have stabilised.
But it's now been 12 hours
since Spot and Stripe last took any fluids.
Time to try them on a little milk.
So, I've got 50ml in the bottle.
I have no intention of giving them the 50ml, I've just done that
so I can cover myself, they don't suck much air.
Dude, dude, dude!
I know you're hungry, but that is ridiculous.
Oh, goodness me.
Dude, don't worry about telling me off, just suck your bottle.
OK, everyone needs to take a breather.
Dude, I don't want to start this again.
I think they're feeling on top of the world! That was very intense.
Good boy. OK.
This one here's Stripe.
He's actually being remarkably more behaved than his brother Spot.
Spot nearly took my hand off.
OK, that's all you're getting, dude. Goodness!
Thought I'd never be so happy to see someone possessive.
Without jumping the gun or tempting fate,
I definitely feel that we're out of the woods now.
You can see just... CUB MEWS
..how enthusiastic they are for some food.
I'm just elated, is the only way I can describe it.
Like - they're like different cubs, aren't they?
In comparison to six hours ago.
I just felt desperate, you know?
See how they are now.
The little boys. Little boys!
Pretty happy now.
Two days later
and Giles is able to bring them home again for the first time,
with a little help from son Kynan.
Come on, we can get...
SPOT SQUEALS Hang on!
Dad, I think Spot's hungry.
-You think he's hungry?
Well, he is, cos he's trying to suck on that ring.
He might be teething.
They like to chew on things - like any baby,
when their teeth start coming through.
You can't put it into words, you know,
considering 48 hours ago how sick I thought they were, and, you know...
Oi! Don't start doing that.
And, since they recovered,
their appetite has returned with a vengeance.
Like, even when I've had them fast asleep, and you just pop a bottle
into one of their mouths, and the other one hears the slurping noise
and wakes up, and he's like, "Where is it, where is it?
"I know I'm missing out."
We already had one or two little hissy fits,
when it comes to potentially sharing, so...
Ahh, my God, that's so cute!
Yeah, it doesn't look like they could hurt a fly, eh?
They definitely know, A, our voices, but B, they're very vocal.
They let you know when they're not happy. Don't you?
Very happy, aren't they?
Over the next week, Spot and Stripe go from strength to strength.
Now a hefty 6kg each in weight,
in the wild they'd be starting to explore the outside world.
At the moment, they're not even five weeks of age,
and you can see just how rapidly they're growing,
but how much more they're engaging with the environment around them.
They're starting to chew on everything
that they can possibly get in their mouths.
Including us! KYNAN GIGGLES
What's he doing?
Sucking your belly fat?
It's not just their mouths that are developing.
They're really following things with their eyes now -
like, their eyesight is obviously getting better and better every day.
Not going to be quite so cute in a couple of months' time, though.
They're growing fast.
And they're going to get naughty.
A week later, and their immune systems are healthy and robust.
Now six weeks old,
the cubs have reached a milestone in their development.
Look at these. You ready?
Look at those canine teeth.
-I think they're going to hurt now, aren't they?
Look at the size of them.
-That's just the very top.
And they're going to get much bigger.
The cubs are getting their milk teeth,
and in a few weeks' time they'll have all 28.
These needle-sharp teeth add a whole new dimension to their play.
What we've got to be mindful of now,
and you've got to start to be careful of,
is that they start to bite and really chew things now.
But sometimes they get possessive,
and that means that he's going to want to keep whatever it is.
Then he starts grunting, he'll go... HE GRUNTS
You know, and he wants to tell me off, cos he thinks it's his,
and his ears start to go flat, and he uses his paws,
and he's holding on as tight as he can,
and that means he's starting to just get a little bit naughty,
a little bit cheeky, like he thinks it belongs to him -
when clearly it's attached to my hand.
And it's actually mine.
So, we need to be careful.
When he starts to do it,
you need to come, you need to tell Daddy straightaway,
-because at the end of the day, they are still tigers.
They're not like a cat or a dog.
But the arrival of new teeth means teething pains...
..and a lot of complaining.
Mostly to Giles.
It's like the terrible twos.
It's giving me a headache.
He tries making a "chuffing" noise at them,
as he knows their mother would.
But it doesn't help.
I'm going to turn the music on and drown you out.
The tantrums couldn't come at a worse time.
It's the live national TV spot today,
and Giles' first chance
to get the public to fall in love with the cubs.
..so, a little bit grey today,
a few showers about, but they should clear...
But right now, even Giles is finding it hard to love them.
About to explode.
SQUEALING Hang on!
They were so naughty this morning, they just wanted to play
and fight, and it'll just be the first time we've exposed them
to the public and the media, so this is quite a big thing for the zoo.
Certainly a big thing for the cubs.
I'm trying to meet everyone's wants and needs,
but most importantly I've got to try and make sure
that I keep things calm and stable for the cubs.
Giles has learnt a few tricks over the last six weeks.
There. How's my boys?
And the best trick is that milk and a cuddle calms everything down.
Mm, good boy.
OK, we're about 90 seconds.
And just in time, too.
-We're about to go on air.
It's the cubs' big moment
and Giles' chance to push the crucial conservation message home.
We've got a very special moment here, we've got the tiger cubs
that were born on the 22nd of August here in Australia Zoo.
These are the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Giles here has been hand-raising them over the past five weeks.
He was actually present at the birth.
Mate, you must have the best job in the world.
Oh, it's incredible. I couldn't dream of doing anything else now.
So, these guys are critically endangered as a species.
What will happen to them when they get a little bit older?
They'll obviously become part of the breeding programme.
Oh, well, this is where I have to swallow the big lump in my throat,
and the fact that these guys are probably eventually going to go off
to other institutes around Australia to be part of the breeding programme.
-Giles, thank you very much.
-Oh, my pleasure.
Really, really happy to be here
and have our first look as the tiger cubs come out and play.
Karl and Lisa live on the Today show at Australia Zoo.
Hooray! Thanks, guys.
They've been perfect. They've been really, really good.
They're really happy, you know, they're clearly very inquisitive
and enjoying their new surroundings, so it's gone really, really well.
I never feel like I say enough on those things, but...
the main reason
or the only reason they're in captivity is to generate support
for conservation efforts,
and there's no point doing any of this type of stuff
unless, you know, we really focus on that.
I want to drive the conservation message home.
But anyway, we'll get there.
It's been a intense couple of months for Spot, Stripe and Giles,
but the journey's only just beginning.
the cubs have toddler tantrums...
Ow, that was my leg!
..and learn to stalk...
Caesar will bite you!
..while Giles is confronted by the horrors of tiger poaching
Literally on the other side of the river there's wild tiger.
It doesn't feel quite as safe as what it looks!
Series following British tiger expert Giles Clark as he hand rears the most genetically important captive sumatran tigers in the world. To ensure their survival he takes them home to live with his boisterous family, where he gives them round the clock care. This is a unique look at the first six months of the most critically endangered tigers on earth, revealing the crucial early development of tiger cubs. Can Giles give the cubs the start they need, and can the cubs help save their species from the brink of extinction?
Spot and Stripe are sumatran tiger cubs born at the Australia Zoo in Queensland, and are genetically the most important youngsters of their species in the world. To help give them the best start, the first four months of their lives are spent in the home of their keeper and tiger expert, Giles Clark.
Growing up in a suburban Australian family home, where they are completely reliant on their foster dad Giles, brings trials, tribulations and real hope for the future of their species. As these cubs struggle through their first crucial weeks, Giles embarks upon the toughest parenting job of his life.