Record-sized crowds have been flocking to the Zoo of Acadiana to watch Filé and Gumbo, sibling golden Bengal tiger cubs, grow.
Lea Loftin, the zoo’s marketing director, said the zoo saw a 30 percent spike in attendance during the month of November. Though the two cubs were born July 16, the pair didn’t arrive here until Oct. 17.
When the pair first played together at the Zoo of Acadiana, they tripped over each other and worked to find their footing. On Monday morning, the tigers sucked down a bottle of pet formula before chasing each other around the cage and pawing their keepers.
“They have gotten so much more coordinated,” said Fran Daigle, the zoo’s general curator.
This past week, Filé climbed atop a nearly 6-foot-high log inside her enclosure, marking the first time one of the cubs has been able to climb the perch.
“She was pacing up there and didn’t know how to get down,” said Jennifer Gates, the zoo keeper who works with the cubs daily.
Gumbo, the male, now weighs 65 pounds, and Filé, the female, is 55 pounds. Daigle said Gumbo may grow to be 10 times his current size, while Filé will quadruple her current weight. Both tigers weighted only about 35 pounds when they came to the Zoo of Acadiana in October. The cubs, Daigle said, will have growth spurts and gain an average of 1 pound daily.
Though the cubs are physically growing at a rapid pace, their personalities have remained the same.
“One thing that has not changed is their personalities,” Daigle said. “He’s still way more laid back, and she’s still much more playful.”
Zoo visitors can watch the cubs drink bottles around noon daily, and zoo staff feeds the cubs meat during public viewings at both 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
“When people come to the zoo, they’re going to see some tigers that are interested in people. They’re not going to be hiding,” Daigle said. “They’re going to be changing and growing a lot over the next few months, and especially over the next year. You’ll basically be seeing different tigers every time you come.”
The Zoo of Acadiana, located at 5601 U.S. Highway 90 East in Broussard, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days per week. During December, the zoo also displays Christmas lights as part of the “Safari of Lights,” which runs from 5 to 9 p.m. nightly and costs $6 for adults and children older than three. The zoo will be closed on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and will close at noon on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.