Poachers and habitat loss are steadily pushing the Siberian tiger closer to extinction; already, there are several other species of these big cats we will never see again. It’s hard to grasp why anyone would want to destroy something so flawlessly beautiful, but the Oasis of the Siberian Tiger in Senec, Slovakia is taking actions to prevent it.
Owner of the sanctuary Yveta Irsova opened the Oasis in 1999, and it is now home to twenty-eight tigers contributing to a small genetic pool. But what do you get a tiger cub who has everything safety, protection, a meal everyday? Well, a trio of German Shepherds, obviously. Two-year-old Suria, mother to 4-month-old cub Sunny, grew up with the pups (who belong to Irsova) from the day she was born.
The group is remarkably fond of each other, wrestling and giving chase in the wide open spaces, becoming boisterous but never causing harm.
Lucia Zustakova, who visited the Oasis and provided many of these amazing photos, says that “Suria plays with the dogs every day and they just love her. I love animals and love the oasis [sic]—it’s a great project to help these tigers that are facing extinction.”
But it’s not just Suria who enjoys the dogs’ company. Blacky, Hugo, and Jenny have also made a dog-lover out of her cub. Sunny learned right away how to play with the pups and to be gentle like Mom. The five of them behave more like siblings than rival species, according to volunteer Martin Ziman, and get along famously.
It’s definitely not the first time dogs have established a deep bond with members of another species, and it certainly won’t be the last. For this one, at least, a couple of tigers are housed out of harm’s way and with friends who like to play just as rough.
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