Two tiger cubs, one licking the other's mouth as it sits on a baby's boppy pillow

Saving Moka

baby tiger cubs being bottle fed

Two is cuter than one

Wildlife care teams at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcomed two adorable tiger cubs in 2017, one Bengal tiger and one Sumatran tiger. Even though the boys are not related, they became as close as brothers, playing, eating, and napping together! They’re thriving now, but both cubs faced some trouble early in life.

tiger cub on back

A rough start

In August 2017, someone tried to smuggle Moka, the Bengal cub, into the United States from Mexico. That is against the law, so the cub was rescued when he was found in the car. But he was so very young. He needed milk from a bottle and a way to stay warm, so they brought him to the Safari Park.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, wildlife care specialists at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, were caring for Rakan, the Sumatran cub. He had been rejected by his mother. They fed him and kept him warm, but tigers do best growing up with other tigers. After making a plan, the Sumatran tiger cub was brought to San Diego. The idea was to introduce the two cubs and let them grow up together.

Tiger cub in box

Nice to meet you!

The cubs were introduced slowly through a protective gate so they could see and smell each other. Moka and Rakan seemed so interested in each other that wildlife care specialists soon put the cubs together, and they formed a bond! The cubs got bigger after working up strong appetites from rolling, wrestling, pouncing, and playing together. At the end of September 2017, the Bengal tiger weighed 15.6 pounds, and his Sumatran tiger companion weighed 19.1 pounds.

Tiger cub playing with blanket

Up and growing

As the cubs grew larger, they needed more room to exercise and explore. The wildlife care specialists fixed up a large space, adding places to hide, obstacles to climb and tackle, and pillows and blankets to slide and plop on. There’s a lot to do when you’re a growing tiger cub. And today, the cubs are fully grown, independent adults. You can learn more about their special story in a book that was written about them. Saving Moka: The True Tale of a Rescued Tiger Cub is part of our Hope & Inspiration series.