Episode 3 Tigers about the House


Episode 3

Following British tiger expert Giles Clark, as he hand-rears Sumatran tiger cubs at home. Spot and Stripe are now outgrowing Giles's home and developing adult tiger behaviours.


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Transcript


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Meet the rarest cubs

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in the world.

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These baby Sumatran tigers

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are the best hope

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for the future of their critically endangered species.

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Hey, aren't you beautiful?

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And for their first four months,

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they will be growing up in a suburban Australian family home.

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Born under the watchful eye of tiger expert and zookeeper Giles Clarke.

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What are you doing, hey?

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To give them the best chance of survival,

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he decided to raise them at home with 24-hour care.

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-It's hard work being a tiger daddy.

-SNORING

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Spot and Stripe's early lives brought testing times for all.

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The cubs were showcased to highlight the plight

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of wild tigers in Sumatra.

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Although Spot and Stripe don't know it,

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they have touched the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people.

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And Spot developed a mystery eye condition.

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He's got a bit of opaqueness in his eyes.

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I'm questioning everything I've done now.

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In this episode...

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HE GROWLS

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He's getting angry.

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..the cubs begin to outgrow the Clarke house.

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They've suddenly got big.

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I don't think they realise their own strength.

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At the zoo, they are introduced to their biggest challenge yet.

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And Spot's deteriorating eye condition leaves him

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fighting for his life.

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I just want the little guy to be OK.

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Can this British zookeeper give these superstar cubs the start they

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need and help save their species from the brink of extinction?

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Oh, goodness me.

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This is not right.

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Spot and Stripe are now three months old

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and beginning to outgrow Giles's home.

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HE LAUGHS

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So we woke up to this funny noise of one of them escaping the room.

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And someone has done a big poo right outside the bedroom door!

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Watch the poo!

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The cubs now weigh 15 kilograms each.

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They are eating half a kilo of meat daily

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and getting more boisterous by the minute.

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It's like living in a zoo.

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Don't bite my love handles. Don't bite my love handles.

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-Giles's family includes his wife, Kerry...

-Good boy.

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-No, not good boy! Naughty boy.

-..eight-year-old son, Kynan...

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..and teenager Alicia.

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And they've all had their lives and home turned upside down.

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It's getting challenging now, to put it mildly.

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The house won't cope and I'm struggling to cope now.

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BARKING

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Despite the chaos, Giles needs to make sure

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they are hitting their developmental milestones.

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Spot and Stripe move back to the zoo in just three weeks' time.

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Chewing on anything they can get their little grubby teeth on. Boys!

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So Giles has got something a bit more meaty for them.

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Come on, I've got something for you to chew.

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So, I'm going to give them a big bone each.

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I thought it would be a cool idea,

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and it looks like they need to chew on something.

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Let's see what they make of these.

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These are beef bones,

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and it's the first time they've tried something so big.

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What is that?! Whoa.

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If this was an adult with a bone like this,

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I wouldn't be quite as relaxed and sat right in front of them.

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They would get really possessive.

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Really possessive.

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They do get, even at this age, protective over their bone.

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Like, he's probably not incredibly... Yes, see?

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That's telling me to leave it alone, it's his as far as he's concerned.

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This possessive response is natural for tigers,

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and will only get more pronounced the older the cubs get.

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This is Spot and Stripe's uncle.

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He is six years old and lives under Giles's care at the zoo.

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In just 18 months, the cubs will be as big as him.

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He's immensely powerful. Like, unbelievably powerful.

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As you can see, he has his teeth and his claws,

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and, more to the point, he knows how to use them.

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HE SNARLS

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He's being really possessive here,

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because he is protecting his food.

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They are, at the end of the day, tigers, you know.

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They've got all of their instinct.

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He's just being natural, he's just being normal.

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In the wild, they are gorge feeders,

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so once they've made the kill, they are going to take

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full advantage of that opportunity, and they eat as much as they can.

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It's precisely because of this possessive behaviour

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that the cubs' days at home are numbered.

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Spot and Stripe will be like that with their food in six months' time.

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Easily.

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You're not going to want to argue with Spot and Stripe

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when it comes to food.

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Good boy.

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As head of tigers here at Australia Zoo on Queensland's

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East Coast, Giles and his team have 10 adult tigers under their care.

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I've worked with tigers now for nearly 20 years.

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It's not just a job, it's a part of me.

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If you ever wanted to say,

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"Did you have a calling?" I suppose this would be it.

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They are all distinct individuals.

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They all have characters, they all have personalities,

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and Spot and Stripe have bucketloads of it.

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Giles shares the zoo's philosophy that if people can see

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and touch the animals, they will help conserve them in the wild.

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This includes the nine hands-on tigers under Giles's care.

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We have this hands-on relationship,

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and because we have this close friendship and bond,

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we can do a variety of things that normally just wouldn't be possible.

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Giles's cats also play a huge role in raising

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awareness of critically endangered wild tigers in Sumatra.

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Plagued by poaching and deforestation,

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the jungles of Sumatra are now home to less than 500 tigers.

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It should be criminal. It should be criminal.

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If things don't rapidly change,

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tigers will be extinct in the wild within one to two decades.

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The tiger for me is the epitome of mother nature, you know.

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It represents just the most awe-inspiring, beautiful,

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majestic, magnificent animal.

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Giles's tigers raise money to provide ranger patrols

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to protect the forests of Sumatra,

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by taking part in paid experiences with zoo visitors.

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And the cubs have already made a huge impact on that effort.

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With Spot and Stripe's help, this year alone we have raised

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and donated almost 200,000 to conservation efforts trying

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to help save tigers in their natural habitat.

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The cubs may have a massive role to play to help their wild cousins,

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but right now Giles's priority is making sure

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they grow into happy, healthy tigers.

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Part of that is preparing them for their future life at the zoo.

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And today is a huge milestone.

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Now that we're integrating them into the compound,

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one of the most important aspects is obviously

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being on display here where the public can see them.

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Part of that is just getting them introduced and used to

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the big pool that we have. We're going to see if we can take them

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for one of their very first proper swims.

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It's going to be a brand-new experience for Spot and Stripe,

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and it could be overwhelming.

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You never quite know

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as to how they're going to go for their first time.

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Good boy.

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Straightaway, Giles can see a difference in how the cubs react

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to being near the water.

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Spot is actually much more confident in the water

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than his brother, Stripe.

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Stripe isn't so confident sometimes.

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I just think it's a personality thing.

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Tigers are the one exception in the big cat family,

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along with jaguars, that really do enjoy the water.

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Tigers are incredibly powerful swimmers,

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they have these huge paws, and actually when they spread

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their toes out, there is webbing, if you like, in between their toes.

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So, effectively, what you've got is this big powerhouse of a unit,

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and on the end of their legs they've got these paddles.

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In some of the habitat you will find them, they can island hop from place

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to place or swim across big rivers, so water is not a problem for them.

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Yeah!

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Stripe is still too nervous to take the plunge.

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He needs some gentle encouragement from Giles.

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That was incredible, wasn't it? Just how confident were they?

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Even jumping in the water. They're just natural, aren't they?

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These guys are going to be water babies, for sure.

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Don't jump into the water if you're being chased by a tiger.

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Or climb a tree. All you've got to do is just

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run faster than the slowest person in your group and you'll be OK.

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In fact, the cubs have already started to develop

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a behaviour that you really wouldn't want to face in the wild.

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Or in the garden, if you are the family dog.

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They are honing their stalking skills.

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-He's going in for the kill.

-Caesar will bite you.

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He's got a bone. So, no.

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As young cubs like this, they instinctively stalk each other,

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and they stalk Mum because it's all good training for ultimately

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when they're going to need it, they go out on their own in the wild

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and start making their own kills.

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Look at how interested he is, look at his ears.

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Now, that's instinctive.

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Like, he moves into a position where he can get round behind.

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Cubs would join their mum on a hunt at six months old,

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and this is the way they develop the right tactics for catching prey.

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DOG GROWLS

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Yes, yeah, you know. That language speaks across species, doesn't it?

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The cubs' progress is a good sign that they are almost ready

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for the big move back to the zoo.

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Yeah.

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No.

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Yeah, but no.

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But Giles has some final hurdles he wants the cubs to pass first.

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One of the most nerve-racking for him is to increase

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their contact with the adult tigers they will soon be living alongside.

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There is always a risk when you are introducing...

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You know, these guys only weigh 19 kilos,

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and they are only little boys at the moment.

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And the tiger they're going to meet today is 130 kilos.

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Juma is the largest tiger that we have in the compound

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and obviously these little guys are the smallest at the moment.

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And they don't quite yet have all the finesse of their manners,

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so to speak.

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The worst thing the cubs could do would be jump at Juma

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and surprise him.

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It's always a bit nerve-racking, in a way,

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because you don't know how the animals are going to respond.

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Hey, we're all in position. He's got Juma down the bottom.

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The cubs have met some of the adult tigers already,

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but always with barriers between them.

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This is the very first time they've met in the flesh.

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THEY CHUFF

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He's big, isn't he?

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So far, so good.

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But Giles is hoping to see clear signs

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they are happy in each other's presence.

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Lots of chuffing.

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Good boys.

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So that noise that they are making to each other

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is what we call a chuff - its proper name is a prusten,

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but it's just a greeting noise, a way of saying hello.

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It's also a way of getting reassurance from one another.

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For a first introduction, this is ace,

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this is exactly the way we wanted it to go.

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Even the cubs, look how relaxed they are.

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It's like they've been doing it all their lives.

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It's a successful meeting,

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and Giles is pleased with how the cubs are adapting

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to their hands-on life.

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I love watching them develop and change.

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They are little tigers now, they're not cubs, you know.

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And it still looks sort of cute,

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but there is actually a serious side to it.

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You're starting to see behaviours

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that at the moment, you think, "Aw-w!"

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Give them a few months and...

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it's not going to look so cute when they're lining you up,

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wanting to flatten you.

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But there is an ongoing development with Spot that is really unwelcome.

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Jump up here.

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A few weeks ago, Giles and Kerry noticed

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something wasn't quite right with Spot's vision.

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He's sort of more, I don't know,

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he tries to turn his head to visualise things.

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Just sort of has to do a double-take.

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There is a slight cloudiness in his eyes.

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And it's a worry for the whole tiger team.

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All right, this is really important. So...

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..Spot has got an opaqueness in his eyes.

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Opaqueness would instantly say cataracts to me,

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but there are other potential causes.

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We won't know until we've spoken to specialists.

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Giles is taking Spot to a veterinary hospital

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to get to the bottom of the problem.

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So, this is quite a big one for Spot, this is actually...

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We're on our way to see the eye specialist.

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She's going to run some further tests.

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Still a niggling bit in the back of my head thinks,

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"Is there anything I should have done or could have done differently?"

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If it was to be an issue that we could have prevented,

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I would be... You know, I'd be devastated. Heartbroken.

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OK. CUB SQUEALS

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OK. Now you can go down.

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So, I've brought both of them because they've never been separated

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and they need each other for reassurance.

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Today wasn't going to be the first day that I separated them.

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This is the first time either one of them has been anaesthetised,

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effectively, so it's more than sedation.

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He's actually going to be knocked out. So it makes me tense.

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Because young animals can respond badly to anaesthetic,

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zoo vet Mel has come to supervise.

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Having put drops into Spot's eyes

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so she can see the damage properly, the specialist Pauline begins

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to check out the finer details of his condition.

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She confirms that Spot does have cataracts,

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a hardening in the lenses that makes his vision blurry.

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Cataracts can occur in older animals,

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but it is much rarer for a young cub to develop them.

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Giles is concerned about why Spot's got them.

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The most likely thing is that there was some pinpoint

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moment in the eye development when he was in the uterus.

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-OK, so we're confident that it's not nutritional?

-Pretty confident.

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I've done so much reading - it doesn't seem like it.

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-OK.

-I think it's going to come down to an unlucky thing.

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Here's your brother.

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After an hour apart, the cubs take comfort from being together again.

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THEY CHUFF

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Normally, cataracts are treatable in most animals,

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but Spot's are unusually aggressive.

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Very few tigers globally have been treated for cataracts like this,

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so after a week of conferring with international experts,

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Giles faces a tough choice.

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The dilemma that we face is, if we leave the cataracts, then

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they are going to start to cause what will be quite painful inflammation.

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Eventually, it might even end up that his eyes would need to be removed.

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It would be devastating, you know.

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For him, for how that would affect his brother in terms

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of interaction that those two currently have.

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But we do have an option where we can intervene,

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and that is going to mean removing the cataract.

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You know, it's...

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It's tough. It's not going away, it's not going to right itself.

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We can't do nothing about it, there's no simple solution.

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Whatever we do is going to involve substantial surgery,

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lengthy recovery times.

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I want whatever the best options are for him.

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Giles has decided to follow the specialist's advice

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and go for what will be pioneering cataract surgery.

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But Spot won't be old enough for the op for another two months,

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so, until then, he can only monitor him.

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The cubs are now almost four months old, and any problems with

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eyesight aren't affecting Spot's boisterous nature.

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He's getting frustrated.

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HE GROWLS

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He's getting angry!

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What are you doing?

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SNARLING

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Both cubs are getting harder to manage.

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I have a healthy respect for a tiger at any size in terms of being safe.

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GROWLING

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They could knock Ruby over, they could knock Kynan over,

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and their bites can do a bit of damage now.

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Ah-ah-ah-ah.

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Yesterday, he sort of got me a little bit there.

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I don't think they realise their own strength. Ruby does.

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Ruby was just sitting there in fear this morning going,

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"What have they become?"

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It's getting risky for Giles to have them living at home.

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We literally are not going be able to not watch them out here

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for a second. Kynan, I don't want them swiping at you.

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No, I'm not meat.

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They are getting bigger by the day.

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It's definitely getting to the right time.

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It's a bit sad, though, isn't it?

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The moment has finally come for Spot and Stripe

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to move back to the zoo full-time.

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And tonight will be the cubs' last night at Giles's family home.

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It's been a whirlwind.

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I can't believe it's been four months already. That's a third of a year.

0:24:160:24:21

I think we've done all right. I think I've certainly given it my best shot.

0:24:230:24:27

Obviously, I feel a bit disappointed sometimes when I think about Spot

0:24:270:24:32

and his little eyes, but you just deal with it.

0:24:320:24:35

But I am proud of what we've achieved.

0:24:350:24:38

Last morning bottle.

0:24:490:24:51

How can you not miss them?

0:24:570:25:00

-I can.

-I know you will.

0:25:000:25:03

They don't need to go, Dad. They need to stay.

0:25:030:25:06

-They need to go into the zoo.

-No, they don't.

-They do.

0:25:060:25:10

No! They're staying here.

0:25:100:25:12

Time to be evicted.

0:25:170:25:19

Go and grow up. You tell those big tigers who's boss.

0:25:250:25:30

This is it.

0:25:330:25:34

Last drive to the zoo from home.

0:25:360:25:37

Look at the size of them, though.

0:25:370:25:40

-They definitely need to stay at the zoo now.

-Good boy.

-Come on.

0:25:400:25:45

Despite how challenging it is, or how much lack of sleep,

0:26:010:26:06

I'm going to miss them,

0:26:060:26:08

as I know...I think everyone at home will.

0:26:080:26:11

Whilst it's the end of their time at the Clarke house,

0:26:130:26:16

now the cubs are at the zoo full-time,

0:26:160:26:20

they can really become ambassadors for their wild cousins in Sumatra.

0:26:200:26:24

But first, Giles needs them to settle into their new home.

0:26:240:26:28

They are being integrated back into the compound.

0:26:280:26:32

They are fitting in really well.

0:26:320:26:33

The changes are happening now really fast.

0:26:330:26:36

Ultimately, what we're aiming for is for these guys to be healthy,

0:26:360:26:41

continue to grow.

0:26:410:26:42

It does feel we're getting to the point now where they're big tigers.

0:26:420:26:47

You can see that they're really enjoying this space to run around

0:26:500:26:53

and go nuts.

0:26:530:26:55

It's like the world's biggest playground for them.

0:26:560:26:59

One of the most important things we need to do is to keep them

0:27:020:27:06

stimulated - not only physically, but just as importantly

0:27:060:27:10

it's about keeping them mentally stimulated and active as well.

0:27:100:27:14

We are just saturating them, basically, with experiences.

0:27:180:27:21

No! You can't boff him. You can't!

0:27:300:27:32

As the weeks pass and the cubs settle into life at the zoo,

0:27:360:27:40

they explore a whole range of environments together.

0:27:400:27:43

Spot's eye operation is only two weeks away.

0:27:460:27:49

Despite his failing eyesight,

0:27:490:27:51

he continues to be confident in the water...

0:27:510:27:54

..while Stripe remains a little more tentative.

0:27:560:28:00

Undoubtedly, you can see it's all good fun for them.

0:28:050:28:08

That's what it's about at the moment, it's about helping us build that

0:28:080:28:12

bond and relationship, that special friendship, if you like, with them.

0:28:120:28:16

They're not tame, they're not domesticated,

0:28:170:28:20

and we never treat them as such.

0:28:200:28:22

We always remember that they're wild animals.

0:28:220:28:25

So, Jeff is effectively encouraging them to play.

0:28:270:28:30

We are letting the cubs know what they can and can't do, effectively.

0:28:300:28:35

Easy, easy. Good boy.

0:28:360:28:39

That's really important,

0:28:390:28:40

because you want to be able to do a whole bunch of things with them

0:28:400:28:43

as they get older, and if you start that process now, it's not a problem.

0:28:430:28:50

The cubs also get lessons in discipline from some

0:28:530:28:56

of the adult tigers in the compound.

0:28:560:28:59

Some of the hard work we can let the adults take over, you know -

0:28:590:29:02

helping us wear them out and teach them how to socialise

0:29:020:29:07

and how to be tigers, effectively.

0:29:070:29:10

Good boy, Charlie.

0:29:140:29:16

One of their favourite tigers in the compound is definitely Charlie.

0:29:170:29:22

Hey, hey, hey!

0:29:220:29:23

Charlie is the most confident with them,

0:29:260:29:30

he likes to interact with them,

0:29:300:29:32

he goes a bit silly, gets a bit goofy.

0:29:320:29:34

Stripe tends to be a bit cheekier and gets himself into mischief

0:29:400:29:43

and then thinks, "Oh, what have I got myself into?"

0:29:430:29:45

But he's also a little bit sneakier as well,

0:29:450:29:48

so he's usually the one that's biting them

0:29:480:29:50

on the back of the ankles, or grabbing on the tail.

0:29:500:29:53

If he ever gets to the point where he's like, "I've had enough,"

0:29:570:30:01

he gives them a bit of a tap and tells them off.

0:30:010:30:03

And usually gives them a growl

0:30:060:30:07

and a bark, but he doesn't follow through with it.

0:30:070:30:10

Which is good.

0:30:100:30:13

HE CHUFFS

0:30:150:30:16

Good boy, Charlie.

0:30:160:30:18

As far as Spot and Stripe are concerned at the moment,

0:30:180:30:21

it's all good fun. Really it's just about engaging.

0:30:210:30:25

But it's important physically, and they get that stimulation

0:30:250:30:29

and they get that enrichment, if you like, by having the contact.

0:30:290:30:34

But it is also a very important part of their development because

0:30:340:30:38

if they were in the wild, they would still have contact with adult tigers,

0:30:380:30:42

i.e. their parents.

0:30:420:30:43

Spot and Stripe are now six months old...

0:30:500:30:52

Hello, little man.

0:30:520:30:54

..and still spend all their time together.

0:30:540:30:57

Are you hungry?

0:30:570:30:58

It's breakfast time. Breakfast time!

0:30:580:31:02

They each now weigh a hefty 40 kilos

0:31:020:31:04

and can eat up to two kilos of meat each day.

0:31:040:31:08

Good boy.

0:31:090:31:12

He's going crazy. They like to sometimes play with their food.

0:31:120:31:16

But playtime isn't what it used to be.

0:31:180:31:20

SPOT ROARS

0:31:210:31:23

-These cubs are growing up fast.

-Good boy.

0:31:230:31:26

HE LAUGHS Didn't expect that, did you?

0:31:260:31:29

Yeah, I know!

0:31:290:31:31

That was Spot being possessive, telling Stripe,

0:31:310:31:34

"Don't come near my food."

0:31:340:31:35

THEY ROAR

0:31:350:31:37

Good boy.

0:31:370:31:39

Spot and Stripe are developing all the tools

0:31:390:31:42

they'd need to survive in the wild.

0:31:420:31:44

The tiger's jaw is immensely powerful.

0:31:480:31:51

So, if you think about us for a second,

0:31:510:31:54

our jaw muscles stop literally beside your ear.

0:31:540:31:56

If you imagine how powerful our jaw muscles would be

0:31:560:31:59

if the jaw muscle was continued right around and wrapped around

0:31:590:32:02

and attached to the top of your skull.

0:32:020:32:05

Cos that's effectively what tigers have here.

0:32:050:32:07

So their jaw muscles are immense.

0:32:070:32:09

And if you look at our tigers, you'll see they have these big,

0:32:090:32:12

bulbous round bits on the top of their head.

0:32:120:32:15

That's their sagittal crest.

0:32:150:32:17

It's a masterpiece of evolution, really.

0:32:170:32:19

And everything that a tiger has become revolves around these huge

0:32:190:32:24

four great big canine teeth at the front of their mouths.

0:32:240:32:27

If it's a smaller animal, they will just bite it around the back

0:32:270:32:30

of the neck, and the canine teeth will break its spinal cord.

0:32:300:32:35

The other way is to actually throttle it until that animal suffocates.

0:32:350:32:39

But with tigers, it's not just about the bite.

0:32:400:32:44

Their sense of eyesight would be

0:32:450:32:47

their most important sense, effectively.

0:32:470:32:49

They hunt via sight,

0:32:490:32:51

so they're not like other carnivores

0:32:510:32:53

that rely more on their sense of smell.

0:32:530:32:56

They have binocular vision, in much the same way as what we do.

0:32:560:32:59

And so that is essential for hunting and catching prey.

0:32:590:33:03

With Spot, for example,

0:33:030:33:04

at the moment he'd still be completely dependent

0:33:040:33:07

on Mum for food,

0:33:070:33:08

and he can and does compensate, and can follow and move around and that,

0:33:080:33:13

so chances are he might even still be alive in the wild.

0:33:130:33:17

But as he gets older, the closer he gets to being independent

0:33:170:33:21

and having to go out and catch his own food,

0:33:210:33:24

the chances are he wouldn't make it with his current eye condition.

0:33:240:33:27

Spot's cataracts have been getting steadily inflamed, and now

0:33:300:33:33

he's six months old, the time has arrived for surgery to correct it.

0:33:330:33:38

The thing that's causing the problem with Spot is this little bit in here.

0:33:390:33:44

This is effectively the lens,

0:33:440:33:46

and what's happened is that that over time

0:33:460:33:48

is becoming more and more solid and hard, the mass in the middle.

0:33:480:33:53

So he won't be able to see through his lens.

0:33:530:33:56

What we're going to do with Spot is,

0:33:560:33:58

we're going to remove the hard material in the middle

0:33:580:34:02

of the lens, and then actually insert our artificial lens

0:34:020:34:06

which should allow him to have very good vision.

0:34:060:34:09

Doing nothing is not an option because what would happen is,

0:34:090:34:13

the cataract would continue to get harder and harder over time,

0:34:130:34:17

and then that can cause other congregations that would result

0:34:170:34:20

in Spot having to then have emergency surgery

0:34:200:34:25

where he would potentially lose the entire eye.

0:34:250:34:28

Today's operation is a worry for Giles, though.

0:34:310:34:35

'It is a tough day.'

0:34:360:34:38

I can't help but obviously have some apprehension.

0:34:380:34:42

We've got a world-leading expert doing the procedure,

0:34:420:34:45

but there's always a risk. There's always a small chance.

0:34:450:34:51

And I think about that small chance quite heavily when it comes to

0:34:510:34:54

anything that we do with giving the tigers general anaesthetics.

0:34:540:34:58

There is a small chance they don't wake up, ever.

0:35:000:35:02

To add to that worry, today will be the first time in their lives

0:35:040:35:08

that Spot and Stripe will be separated.

0:35:080:35:11

HE WHIMPERS

0:35:170:35:20

This must be the first time he's actually travelled without

0:35:200:35:24

the company of his brother.

0:35:240:35:26

SPOT WAILS

0:35:260:35:28

And he's letting us know that he's not happy about it.

0:35:280:35:33

HE GROWLS

0:35:330:35:35

Oi! HE CHUFFS

0:35:350:35:39

Where are we? Good boy.

0:35:430:35:46

GILES CHUFFS

0:35:460:35:49

It's all good. OK.

0:35:490:35:50

Mel and the vet team from the zoo have come to supervise

0:35:510:35:55

Spot's anaesthetic, as he'll have to be knocked out

0:35:550:35:58

for at least two hours.

0:35:580:36:00

Almost ready to go.

0:36:040:36:06

Giles has flown in Dr Kleiner from Brazil.

0:36:060:36:09

He's one of only two surgeons in the world who's performed

0:36:090:36:12

this kind of surgery on a tiger.

0:36:120:36:14

The procedure is just like the same technique that we use in humans,

0:36:140:36:18

so we're going to do both eyes today.

0:36:180:36:21

So hopefully the surgery will be very fast,

0:36:210:36:24

because he's a young animal.

0:36:240:36:25

In fact, Spot is only the third tiger in the world

0:36:270:36:30

to have artificial lenses put in.

0:36:300:36:32

And the youngest.

0:36:320:36:35

So this is, er, acrylic, custom-made lenses.

0:36:350:36:38

It's going to make him see the world much better.

0:36:380:36:42

I expected it to look more like a contact lens.

0:36:420:36:45

So far, so good, guys.

0:36:560:36:58

It seems to be going really well.

0:37:010:37:04

One eye is almost finished, so the cataract has been removed

0:37:040:37:07

and the false lens put in.

0:37:070:37:09

An hour into the operation,

0:37:110:37:13

and Dr Kleiner moves on to fit the lens into Spot's right eye.

0:37:130:37:17

But things are not as straightforward as everyone hoped.

0:37:200:37:23

It's a very tricky one.

0:37:260:37:28

The capsule is too small.

0:37:300:37:32

We've got little wrinkles on the back part of the capsule.

0:37:320:37:36

Spot's right eye has an undetected abnormality which means

0:37:370:37:41

although the cataract has been removed,

0:37:410:37:43

the artificial lens doesn't fit correctly.

0:37:430:37:46

I don't want to do that.

0:37:460:37:48

As he decides it's best to leave the right eye without a new lens,

0:37:490:37:53

Spot's condition deteriorates.

0:37:530:37:55

Hold on a second.

0:37:560:37:58

-OK?

-No.

0:38:190:38:20

Spot's had a major reaction to the anaesthetic,

0:38:310:38:35

so Mel's giving him a drug to reverse it.

0:38:350:38:38

SLOW BEEPING

0:38:450:38:47

And after a minute, his breathing recovers.

0:38:470:38:51

-It's much stronger now.

-Good stuff.

0:38:510:38:54

My heart was in my mouth.

0:38:540:38:57

I literally have got the shakes.

0:38:570:39:00

It's a good, strong beat now.

0:39:000:39:02

-Yep.

-I hate anaesthetics.

0:39:020:39:05

Surgery is surgery.

0:39:050:39:07

You cannot predict what is going to happen, you know.

0:39:070:39:11

Round of applause for everybody.

0:39:110:39:13

It was a tough one. I think the toughest of my life.

0:39:160:39:20

Slightly disappointed about the lens,

0:39:240:39:26

but after that episode that we just had,

0:39:260:39:29

I'm just glad he's breathing by himself

0:39:290:39:32

and we're not looking at something

0:39:320:39:36

potentially much more devastating.

0:39:360:39:39

Back at the zoo, Giles has decided to keep Spot

0:39:440:39:47

away from his brother for the night to give him a chance to rest.

0:39:470:39:50

So while Stripe beds down in the main compound,

0:39:520:39:55

Giles and Spot are spending the night in the clubhouse next door.

0:39:550:39:59

-Night.

-See you in the morning.

-Thank you, see you in the morning.

0:40:010:40:04

-Call us if you need anything.

-Thank you.

0:40:040:40:07

It soon becomes clear that Spot isn't enjoying having

0:40:090:40:13

the protective cone on his head.

0:40:130:40:15

"Get this thing off my head."

0:40:150:40:16

Break it down, break it down. Come on, come on.

0:40:230:40:26

And as the night draws on,

0:40:290:40:31

Spot shows signs he's missing the contact with his brother.

0:40:310:40:35

Dude, we're not playing.

0:40:350:40:37

What you're seeing him do here in terms of trying to grab me

0:40:370:40:41

with his paws and kick, is just typical wrestling

0:40:410:40:47

play behaviour that you see them do with each other.

0:40:470:40:52

HE CHUFFS

0:40:520:40:53

It's 5am. Spot has finally gone to sleep.

0:40:550:40:59

I'm exhausted.

0:41:050:41:08

Man, these cubs have been draining, haven't they?

0:41:080:41:11

In every sense of the word.

0:41:110:41:12

The most important thing is that if we can help him

0:41:140:41:17

recover quicker, then what's a few hours less sleep?

0:41:170:41:20

There's a good boy. Step. Good boy.

0:41:310:41:35

The cubs have now been apart for 24 hours,

0:41:360:41:39

and Giles is keen for them to see each other.

0:41:390:41:42

HE CHUFFS

0:41:420:41:46

STRIPE CHUFFS

0:41:480:41:51

That's so cute!

0:41:530:41:55

But while Stripe seems pleased at the reunion,

0:41:570:41:59

Spot is uncharacteristically reserved.

0:41:590:42:02

Stripe was quite chuffy towards Spot,

0:42:090:42:13

whereas I don't think he chuffed back once at his brother.

0:42:130:42:16

Hi, guys. How are you going?

0:42:160:42:18

The medical team have arrived to check on Spot's condition.

0:42:180:42:21

Worried?

0:42:210:42:22

He's been a bit better now.

0:42:220:42:24

But I'm actually a bit worried now because he's so flat.

0:42:240:42:28

He's been really quiet. So, we'll go and see him.

0:42:280:42:33

They've taken the cone off for a better look.

0:42:390:42:42

And it soon becomes clear to Dr Kleiner why Spot has been

0:42:430:42:47

so withdrawn.

0:42:470:42:48

-I'm a little bit worried about the sutures.

-Yeah.

0:42:480:42:52

Would you help me here, doctor? Open up the eyes?

0:42:520:42:55

Despite all the precautions taken, it seems some of the sutures,

0:42:560:43:00

or stitches, have been pulled out by Spot in the night.

0:43:000:43:03

Yeah, here's just like 50% of the sutures gone.

0:43:050:43:09

Unless action's taken immediately,

0:43:100:43:12

Spot's eyes could be damaged beyond repair.

0:43:120:43:16

They need to get back to theatre straightaway.

0:43:160:43:19

Oh, goodness.

0:43:270:43:29

SPOT GROANS I know.

0:43:310:43:35

I know. Where are we going?

0:43:350:43:39

GILES CHUFFS

0:43:390:43:41

Dr Kleiner quickly replaces the stitches.

0:43:420:43:45

We had just two stitches.

0:43:520:43:55

So now he has 16 stitches.

0:43:550:43:58

The right eye has been successfully repaired.

0:44:000:44:03

And the surgeons are happy that it's now stable.

0:44:030:44:06

But they've noticed a much bigger problem.

0:44:080:44:12

The left eye that contains the artificial lens is extremely

0:44:120:44:16

inflamed after months of living with cataracts.

0:44:160:44:19

The problem is, the pressure's way too high in his left eye,

0:44:220:44:26

which is not good.

0:44:260:44:28

Unfortunately, things haven't gone as smoothly as we would have liked.

0:44:300:44:34

It's not looking great at this point for that eye.

0:44:340:44:37

It has really, really high pressure, lots of inflammation.

0:44:390:44:43

And now it's looking worse.

0:44:430:44:46

GILES SIGHS

0:44:460:44:48

Giles is facing the very real possibility

0:44:500:44:53

that if it doesn't improve, Spot's left eye may have to be removed.

0:44:530:44:58

It's the right thing. I just feel helpless for him.

0:45:000:45:05

It just seems like, from all accounts from the specialist,

0:45:060:45:10

that it's one of those things. He just happens to have

0:45:100:45:15

a multitude of "one of those things".

0:45:150:45:18

He's going through so much.

0:45:240:45:26

He continues to go through so much, you know, like...

0:45:260:45:31

I just...

0:45:310:45:33

I just want it to be over for him.

0:45:330:45:35

The vet team have eased the pressure in Spot's eye.

0:45:380:45:42

But for the next few days, it's a waiting game to see if it improves.

0:45:420:45:46

The next morning, and Spot is reasonably comfortable.

0:45:520:45:56

But to protect the eyes from any more damage, he's going

0:45:560:45:59

to have to continue to be separated from his brother.

0:45:590:46:03

Stripe, in particular, is finding it tough, as he's always been

0:46:030:46:06

the less confident of the two.

0:46:060:46:09

-SPOT WAILS

-All right.

0:46:090:46:11

HE WHINES

0:46:120:46:14

HIS WHINES INTENSIFY

0:46:140:46:16

As the days roll on, the keepers are having to find ways to keep both

0:46:210:46:25

cubs busy, and provide the comfort they'd usually get from each other.

0:46:250:46:30

He's just over six months, actually.

0:46:320:46:35

Stripe is still taking part in walks with members of the public

0:46:350:46:38

to raise money for tiger conservation.

0:46:380:46:41

We can't allow you to do this with him, if that's what you're hoping.

0:46:410:46:45

And the enforced separation from his brother is giving him

0:46:460:46:49

some new confidence.

0:46:490:46:52

He's settled into being by himself a lot more now than he did initially.

0:46:520:46:56

He's definitely got a lot more confident.

0:46:560:46:59

Good boy!

0:47:030:47:05

And because Spot is spending so much time in the safe environment

0:47:050:47:08

of his den, the keepers are keen to keep him stimulated.

0:47:080:47:13

He's going to be into the smells a lot more than normal, because

0:47:130:47:17

obviously his vision is a little bit... Not as good as what it was.

0:47:170:47:21

SHE CHUFFS

0:47:220:47:23

That feels good, that one. Might have to scratch it again.

0:47:240:47:27

Particularly if he picks up a fresh scraping, where there's been urine,

0:47:280:47:32

or if he comes across a bit of bamboo where there's been a scent

0:47:320:47:34

directly on the tree, you see him putting his nose up against it,

0:47:340:47:38

then he'll turn around and pull this...what we call a stinky face,

0:47:380:47:41

or the correct term is a flehmen's response, and that is sort of them

0:47:410:47:44

interpreting and drawing in the smell.

0:47:440:47:47

We know through watching our tigers that they definitely

0:47:470:47:49

recognise each other through the smells.

0:47:490:47:52

This is great for him.

0:47:530:47:55

All the adult tigers urinate on the underside of this log,

0:47:550:47:59

so what he's trying to do is obviously lick the urine off

0:47:590:48:01

but then rub his face on it as well.

0:48:010:48:04

And to get a little bit goofy!

0:48:050:48:08

Whoop!

0:48:080:48:10

At his age, normally he'd be running around,

0:48:100:48:12

he'd be chasing his brother, he'd be chasing us, chasing toys.

0:48:120:48:15

So he's probably got all this excess energy that he wants to get rid of.

0:48:150:48:20

And as you can see, he definitely likes to.

0:48:200:48:22

SHE LAUGHS

0:48:220:48:25

You a bit playful now?

0:48:250:48:27

While Spot's forced to take it easy,

0:48:300:48:33

Stripe has found a willing playmate in senior handler Jeff.

0:48:330:48:37

You are a good boy.

0:48:400:48:42

HE LAUGHS

0:48:470:48:49

All this is obviously what he'd be doing with his brother.

0:48:490:48:51

We're obviously not tigers, so it's important to make sure

0:48:510:48:54

that the rules we've got in place are different.

0:48:540:48:57

Because they'll do whatever they want to each other.

0:48:570:48:59

When he starts to get too rough, then obviously we stop.

0:48:590:49:02

It's important to make sure that he knows exactly what he can and can't do.

0:49:020:49:05

Spot has now been isolated from his brother for a week,

0:49:120:49:16

so Kynan and Kerry have come into the zoo to give him some company.

0:49:160:49:19

Hey, big fella.

0:49:190:49:21

This is the first time they've seen Spot

0:49:220:49:24

since he left home two months ago.

0:49:240:49:27

-Hello. He looks sad!

-Oh...

0:49:270:49:31

Well, he's big.

0:49:310:49:33

He's more than twice the size.

0:49:330:49:37

He's as big as our big dog, Caesar.

0:49:370:49:40

I just want to hug him.

0:49:400:49:41

He looks a bit strange because his eyelids, Kynan, at the moment,

0:49:410:49:45

to help them heal they've got stitches in,

0:49:450:49:47

so they're sewn closed.

0:49:470:49:49

I know.

0:49:510:49:53

GILES CHUFFS Who's that?

0:49:530:49:56

Do you want to chuff to him?

0:49:560:49:57

Oh, my God. Look at his paws.

0:49:590:50:02

His paws are way bigger than yours. Look.

0:50:020:50:05

Over the last week,

0:50:160:50:17

the tiger team have been devoting their time tending to Spot...

0:50:170:50:21

..giving him medicine every few hours.

0:50:230:50:25

Although Spot's coping well, it's been tough for them to see

0:50:270:50:31

his discomfort at times.

0:50:310:50:33

It's very difficult to watch them suffer in any way.

0:50:330:50:37

But Giles is optimistic about Spot's vision.

0:50:400:50:44

So he can definitely see light and dark,

0:50:440:50:47

and I think he can see big shadows.

0:50:470:50:49

But at the moment there's still so much inflammation

0:50:490:50:51

and so much swelling.

0:50:510:50:54

It's still such an early stage, given all that he's been through.

0:50:540:50:57

He hasn't changed.

0:50:570:50:59

You know, his eyes might have, but he hasn't.

0:50:590:51:02

He's still the same Spot, you know.

0:51:020:51:03

He's still got all the same characteristics and the confidence

0:51:030:51:07

and everything else.

0:51:070:51:09

But what the team are desperate to know

0:51:140:51:16

is if Spot's eyes will be OK.

0:51:160:51:18

And today, specialist Pauline has come to find out.

0:51:230:51:27

-The stitches look really beautiful.

-Yeah?

-Yeah. Which is good.

0:51:310:51:35

His right eye is continuing to improve.

0:51:350:51:38

But it's the worst news possible for the left eye.

0:51:410:51:44

The pressure is still dangerously high.

0:51:450:51:48

And it's caused the retina to detach.

0:51:500:51:53

This devastating development means he'll never have vision

0:51:570:52:00

in the left eye again.

0:52:000:52:02

We're going to have to have some form of removal.

0:52:020:52:06

I feel as numb as he looks at the moment.

0:52:100:52:14

The heartbreaking decision's been made.

0:52:180:52:21

Tomorrow he'll lose his left eye.

0:52:210:52:24

Today's been immensely hard, like, I can't even put it into words, really.

0:52:280:52:33

I just feel sad.

0:52:330:52:35

I want him to be well, you know. I want him to be little Spot again.

0:52:410:52:45

Just sad.

0:52:530:52:55

HE CHUFFS Hey, big fellow. Hello!

0:53:180:53:22

Having got over the initial shock,

0:53:240:53:26

Giles is feeling positive about what's going to happen today.

0:53:260:53:31

So the specialists think that he is now completely blind

0:53:310:53:34

in that left eye. And that it won't...

0:53:340:53:36

Hello. I'm talking about you. Yeah, I'm talking about you.

0:53:390:53:43

THEY BOTH CHUFF

0:53:430:53:47

We keep having complications with the pressure. Hello.

0:53:480:53:52

We're actually going to remove the workings of the eye, effectively.

0:53:540:53:59

His recovery should be much quicker, and he shouldn't go through

0:53:590:54:02

these periods of being really, really uncomfortable

0:54:020:54:08

and clearly in pain.

0:54:080:54:10

They should remove all that from the equation

0:54:100:54:14

and just get him back to normal.

0:54:140:54:16

Hi, Pauline. Yeah, good. How are you?

0:54:160:54:19

The surgery will insert an artificial eye,

0:54:190:54:22

so he'll look normal when he interacts with the other tigers.

0:54:220:54:26

It's quite big.

0:54:260:54:27

And he should feel the benefits immediately.

0:54:270:54:30

OK?

0:54:300:54:31

Good boy. HE CHUFFS

0:54:410:54:43

A month later, and Spot's eyes are healing well.

0:54:430:54:46

Are you going to see your brother?

0:54:480:54:50

And both cubs are finally able to be back together.

0:54:500:54:53

Is that good? I'm going to take them off.

0:54:530:54:55

And as you can see, they're getting along fabulously.

0:54:580:55:01

They're getting along really well.

0:55:010:55:03

Good to see your brother? Good boys.

0:55:030:55:06

At the moment it's still too early to tell as to what,

0:55:060:55:09

if any sight he's going to have in that right eye.

0:55:090:55:13

But as far as Spot's future is concerned,

0:55:130:55:16

he's going to spend the rest of his life with us.

0:55:160:55:18

What are you doing? HE CHUFFS

0:55:180:55:22

'He's going to stay, and we can provide him

0:55:220:55:25

'with the best quality of life.

0:55:250:55:28

'He's been incredibly special the whole time,'

0:55:280:55:31

and continues to be, you know.

0:55:310:55:33

'And he's going from strength to strength every day.'

0:55:330:55:35

GILES CHUFFS

0:55:350:55:37

Come on, Spot. Good boy.

0:55:370:55:40

Stripe will spend the next 18 months with his brother.

0:55:400:55:44

But then he's got a huge mission to help the future of his species.

0:55:440:55:48

It's more imperative than ever that Stripe

0:55:490:55:52

is active in part of the breeding programme,

0:55:520:55:55

and so he will definitely, at some point in the years to come,

0:55:550:55:59

go off to another facility

0:55:590:56:00

where he can be part of that breeding programme.

0:56:000:56:02

Uh-uh. Come on.

0:56:020:56:05

The future is looking bright for both Stripe and Spot, and having

0:56:050:56:09

them in his life for the last six months has changed Giles forever.

0:56:090:56:14

It's been a...

0:56:170:56:18

A crazy journey, really.

0:56:190:56:21

THEY ALL CHEER

0:56:210:56:24

'Watching them be born...'

0:56:260:56:29

'Actually being there.'

0:56:300:56:32

Hey, aren't you beautiful?

0:56:320:56:34

Oh, cute!

0:56:340:56:36

HE SQUEAKS

0:56:360:56:38

'They grew so quickly.'

0:56:390:56:41

They just went from being little bundles

0:56:410:56:44

'that could sit in the palm of your hand...'

0:56:440:56:45

HE SHRIEKS To then, within a couple of weeks,

0:56:450:56:49

they're cruising around that room.

0:56:490:56:51

This is where the real fun begins.

0:56:510:56:53

Oi!

0:56:530:56:54

'The journey has been emotional for me.'

0:56:580:57:00

You did so well. I'm so proud of you. GILES CHUFFS

0:57:000:57:04

They're both sick. And I don't know why.

0:57:040:57:06

It's been really poignant on so many levels.

0:57:090:57:12

MACHINE BEEPS

0:57:120:57:14

STRIPE WHINES

0:57:140:57:16

I just want the little guy to be OK.

0:57:160:57:18

'In some ways, it's a bit like watching your own children grow.'

0:57:210:57:24

It's been exhausting, it's been frustrating.

0:57:280:57:32

HE SHRIEKS

0:57:320:57:34

It's giving me a headache.

0:57:340:57:36

Uh-uh!

0:57:360:57:37

Most of all, it's had amazing purpose.

0:57:380:57:43

Being caught in a snare is just barbaric.

0:57:440:57:47

The tiger's in a lot of trouble.

0:57:500:57:53

And what we're doing is making a massive difference.

0:57:530:57:56

We're just at a point now where we're turning a new corner

0:57:580:58:01

and we're going to go in a slightly different direction.

0:58:010:58:05

But the destination is still the same.

0:58:050:58:07

It's about saving tigers in the wild.

0:58:070:58:10

'And I won't stop while I've got a breath in my body.'

0:58:120:58:15

'I wouldn't change a moment.'

0:58:200:58:22

It's been just an amazing privilege.

0:58:220:58:25

Sumatran tiger cubs Spot and Stripe are now outgrowing keeper Giles Clark's home and developing adult tiger behaviours. The time comes for them to leave the family home and reintegrate with the rest of the tigers at Australia Zoo. These tiger cubs offer real hope to the plight of wild Sumatran tigers, and Giles believes their unique experience in his family home will make them even more suitable for a life in captivity.

As they move back to the zoo, Spot and Stripe's development is far from over. Giles gives the cubs their first swimming lesson, and they meet the adult tigers they are going to share their lives with. But all is not well with Spot, who is rapidly developing an eye condition that leaves him fighting for his life.


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