A tiger reserve in India had to get a little creative to feed a litter of orphaned cubs that wouldn't drink milk from bottles.
The rangers at the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh crafted a fake tiger that was fitted with synthetic nipples and a milk bottle to feed the three orphaned cubs.
The "Dummy Mummy" was made after the cubs refused to drink from bottles and the rangers realized they needed to get their food. When they introduced the fake tiger, things immediately changed for the better.
The "Dummy Mummy" mimics what the cubs would have done in their natural habitat — feeding off their mother’s nipples for milk. To get the natural environment feel for the cubs, officials rubbed feces on the fake tiger to give it the likely scent she would have in the wild.
"We tried to give them goats' milk initially but they didn't like the human interaction," Field Director Mridul Pathak told the Caters New Agency. "They just refused to take the bottle from our staff. Now they have been feeding from the synthetic nipples attached to the dummy for six days and their energy levels have increased from the first feed."
The cubs were orphaned in January after the body of their mother was discovered near a river. It is believed by the officials at the reserve that the mother died after brushing against an electric fence.
The reserve has been caring for the dehydrated cubs arrived in critical condition.
Since the beginning of the year, the cubs have been in an enclosure at the reserve that is the closest thing they have to a natural habitat, complete with grass, twigs, and sand.