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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

We read the good stories of Vera Chaplina and get acquainted with tigers.

July 29 is the International Day of the Tiger, established in 2010 to draw attention to the problem of extinction. The Moscow Zoo has been participating in the European program for the preservation of the Amur tiger population for many years. Animals feel great here – last year at the Center for the reproduction of rare species of animals of the zoo among the Amur tigers was bornfour cubs.

Tigers have always occupied an important place among the pets of the Moscow Zoo. We offer you a glimpse into history and meet several tigers that lived here in the last century and were immortalized by the famous animal writer Vera Chaplina.

Head of the kindergarten for animals

At the age of 10, Vera Chaplina (1908–1994) experienced a serious tragedy: being lost on the street, she could not explain where she lives, and ended up in an orphanage. Little Muscovite Vera was taken to Tashkent. Taking care of abandoned animals helped to cope with homesickness – she found puppies and kittens on the street, fed them in the yard, and took them to the bedroom at night. “Sometimes one of the educators found my pets, and it hit me well,” she later recalled.

Vera Chaplina’s mother managed to find her daughter and take her home only five years later. When she returned, Vera loved to visit the Moscow Zoo (as the Moscow Zoo was called until 1926). One day she was approached by Pyotr Manteifel, deputy director of the zoo for scientific affairs, who recently opened a circle of young biologists (KYBZ) at the zoo – children and adolescents who loved animals were admitted there. He asked if she would like to sign up, and the girl happily agreed.

Kyubzovka (so called the pupils of the circle – “kyubzovtsy” and “kyubzovki”) Chaplin cleaned the enclosures, fed the cubs from the nipple, played with them for a long time. Later, taking into account the existing work experience, she was accepted into the staff of the zoo. In 1933, Vera created a famous young animals’ playground here, a nursery for cubs left without mothers. The kids lived according to the schedule: morning feeding, joint walk, lunch, quiet hour and walk again. The kids here calmly played with the tiger cubs, the wolf cubs – with the little monkeys.

Today, the playgrounds for young animals, which have long remained the hallmark of the Moscow Zoo, no longer exist: modern researchers believe that such a friendship between animals at a young age interferes with the correct development of instincts.

One of the most famous pets of the site was Kinuli, a female lion cub. It was not just a name – it was the fate of the cub that the lioness mother left. Vera Chaplin took Kinuli home, raised her in a communal apartment, and during the day brought her to the zoo to communicate with other animals. The lioness became a worldwide sensation – newspapers and magazines in the USA, Great Britain and France wrote about her and her teacher in the late 1930s.

At the same time, Vera Chaplina began to write stories and books about her pupils. First, in 1935, a collection of stories, “Kids from the Green Land,” was published, two years later, “My Pupils,” and in 1939, a book called My animal friends was published in one of the London publishers.

Vera Vasilievna, who has devoted a serious part of her life to working with the animals of the zoo, has created excellent descriptions of the habits and character of the animals. Chaplina’s books and articles were so popular that letters from all over the country flew to the zoo every day – everyone wanted to know how their favorites were doing, what their mood was and whether something interesting had happened to them. Among them were tigers – Raji, La Bayadere and Orphan.

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Ferocious Raji and his beloved La Bayadere

In the winter of 1925, a Bengal tiger caught in India was brought to the Moscow Zoo. This was the first representative of its subspecies to come here. When the box was opened to enter a new dwelling, the tiger hid, and then jumped out in one leap and began to violently rush to the walls, after which he hid in a corner, trying to hide from people. Vera Chaplina, who was then 17 years old, was left to look after him.

“The most interesting were his eyes,” she wrote later in the story “Raji”. – They were not at all like the other lions and tigers who lived in the zoo. Those animals had brownish eyes, while the Raja’s were bright as amber. The eyes of this tiger involuntarily attracted attention and gave it an expression of some kind of indomitable ferocity. “

The beast could not get used to people for a long time and threw itself on the rods with every movement of the employees. Over time, the formidable tiger resigned himself to his fate and no longer paid attention to the presence of people. Neighbors – leopards and a large family of Amur tigers – he also ignored.

A year later, a Bengal tigress, La Bayadere, was brought to the zoo. She was beautiful, slim and playful – the exact opposite of Raja. Their cages were opposite each other, and after a while the tigers began to “talk” affectionately. Then La Bayadere was transplanted into a neighboring cage, and one day they decided to open the door between them. The attendants feared that the tigers would fight, but the meeting went well. The tigress immediately began rolling on her back, showing Raji her location, rubbing her head against his neck and chest, and the formidable tiger relented.

Since then, Raji and La Bayadere have become inseparable, but their love story ended sadly. Once La Bayadere got very sick, the veterinarians could not help her. Having lost his girlfriend, Raji was yearning and constantly approached the door of her former cell. Later, another Bengal tigress was brought and settled next to him, but he did not pay attention to her, remaining faithful to his deceased friend.

“Since then, many tigers have visited the zoo, but none of them looked like Raji. His huge gray head with amber eyes, always watching people, his grin of already worn and yellowed fangs, his strong, flexible body with a large scar on his side and now, after so many years, are alive in my memory “, – this is how the story dedicated to Raja ends …

Affectionate and mischievous Orphan

In 1938, the Amur tiger Prince and the tigress Chizhik gave birth to triplets. For some reason, the mother did not have milk, and two babies died immediately. Vera Chaplina took the third tiger cub, a girl, to feed her from a bottle. Every two hours she gave the baby cream to drink, a third diluted with milk and a little sugar. When the tiny Orphan (as she was called) got stronger, she was put on the puppies, which were fed by the mongrel Vulka. But the dog was afraid of the tiger cub and soon refused to feed him, so he had to bottle feed the baby again.

In six months, the Orphan began to be released to the young animals’ site. There she became friends with the white bear cub Fomka. The animals spent a lot of time together: the little tigress loved to jump on a friend from an ambush and run away from him, and he loved to fight. Visitors enjoyed watching their games, and a photograph of Orphan and Fomka adorned the brochure issued for the 75th anniversary of the Moscow Zoo.

“Once the Orphan was so tired of the hulking bear cub that he climbed into the water from her,” Chaplin wrote in her story “Fomka is a white bear cub”. – Fomka is sitting, cooling off, and the Orphan is walking around, cannot get it. She walked like that for a long time, then she could not resist but how she jumped! She missed and flopped into the water. It was then that Fomka gave her a spanking. In the water, he turned out to be much more agile than a tiger. After that, the Orphan was already afraid to approach the pool when Fomka was sitting there, and even went to another place to drink water ”.

At almost a year old, the overly mischievous tiger cub was urgently removed from the playground of the young – while playing, the Orphan almost crippled her comrade, a little lamb. As noted in the article “The Case of the Orphan” in the newspaper “Evening Moscow” on September 14, 1939, the separation from friends so saddened the minx that she refused food for two days.

With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Orphan moved along with other especially valuable animals to the Sverdlovsk Zoo. In 1944, Vera Chaplina took part in the return of the pets to Moscow. Here is how she described the meeting with the tigress in the story “The Striped Orphan”:

“- Orphan! Orphan! – I called her.

Then the tigress jumped up, rushed to the grate, meows, puts her head, asks me to caress her. Just think, I found out! Orphan, Orphan! I stroke her, caress her, and she tries to lick me through the bars with her rough tongue. The minister is surprised, the audience is surprised how this tiger could remember a man after so many years. “

In 1947, the Orphan starred in the documentary At the Moscow Zoo. Later, the tame tigress took part in the filming of the film “Among the Animals”, which took place in the pavilion of the MA Gorky. During the filming, a rabbit was launched to her in order to record the manifestation of tiger’s predatory instincts on film. But the Orphan only licked the animal affectionately – after all, even on the playground of the young, she was used to friendly coexistence with herbivores. The director and cameraman waited unsuccessfully for several days for the tigress to react, and then abandoned their idea.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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