Roaring welcome for Sam & Elsa

SUNWAY Lagoon's latest 'family' members, Sam and Elsa, made their first public appearance recently to much excitement.

The twin white tiger cubs are the first litter from proud parents Samson and Asha, the theme park's resident white tigers.

Born on Nov 13 last year, the two cubs weighed less than a kilogramme at birth. Now they weigh 12kg each.

"We feed them milk that is formulated for cats, and add additional nutrients that they need," says Azman Ghazali, the wildlife manager at Sunway Theme Parks.
"Now we have introduced them to solid foods (chicken), but they still take milk every day."

Azman explains that he has years of experience working with tigers at different wildlife parks all over the world, and likens raising these big cats to raising house cats.
"Like other siblings, the two cubs love to play fight. However, Sam is more gentle, and always lets Elsa have her way when they play. That is why you see bare patches on Sam's skin where the fur is missing. That is Elsa's doing."

He adds that the two cubs had to be handraised by the keepers.

Sunway Lagoon's wildlife veterinarian Dr Eve Foong Yee Wei explained that when Asha became pregnant, veterinary staff kept a close eye on the tigress, but once the cubs were born, their attention shifted to the cubs.

After a 24-hour observation, it became clear to the staff that Asha did not know how to care for her newborns. So the staff decided to intervene.

"They were still wet when we got them out of the enclosure," recalls Foong. "I stayed with the cubs day and night, feeding them every two to four hours for weeks."

Foong proudly shows us photos of the cubs back then, like a proud mother showing off her own children. "They grow up so fast," she adds.

Despite being twins, the cubs each have vastly different personalities.

"Sam is a mummy's boy," says Foong, adding that he is shy and needs time to warm up to people, but is very affectionate once he gets to know the person.

She describes Elsa as the curious one, sticking her nose into everything and diving head first into anything that strikes her fancy.

When asked if the cubs have ever played rough with their handlers, Foong shows off the scars on her arms.

"These are all from them. My legs are all scratched up too. Sam and Elsa can be very playful, and sometimes they do not know their strength. They are still wild animals at heart."
But she bemoans the time when she has to let them go.

"Depending on a few factors such as their personalities and development, we will not be able to handle them as we can now once they reach the age of six to seven months."

Foong says ideally, Sam and Elsa should find a home at Sunway Lagoon here in Bandar Sunway, or the Lost World of Tambun in Ipoh.

Because they are being raised in captivity, they cannot be returned to the wild.

Hopefully, they can help increase the awareness and understanding of white tigers, and the need for their conservation.

From tomorrow until March 25, these two white tiger cubs will be the stars of Sunway Lagoon's Walk & Hunt in the Wild campaign.

Guests will have the chance to meet Sam and Elsa at Tigerland throughout the campaign daily at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 4.30pm.

The campaign also features the Wildlife Theatre's wildlife multi-animal show and a scavenger hunt.

The hunt, which is made up of riddles and a photo hunt, will take guests through the Wildlife Park, which is home to over 150 species of animals.

Registration for the scavenger hunt opens at Tigerland at 1pm, and for the Wildlife Theatre at 3.30pm, on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Participants of the hunt will receive a scavenger hunt kit that includes an activity booklet, a postcard map, hand sanitiser, Cadbury 5 Star chocolate bars, and an exclusive Sunway Lagoon ticket redemption coupon.

For visitors looking for great online deals this school holiday, Sunway Lagoon is offering the FAMFun package at RM390 for two adults and two children, or the 4-to-Go package at RM456 for four adults.

Visitors can also visit Sunway Lagoon's booths (No.4114-4119 at Hall 4) at the Matta Fair in Kuala Lumpur, happening from today till Sunday, for great promotions.

They include Sunway Lagoon's Passport to Your Best Day Ever, which grants its holder unlimited entries to the theme park at the special price of RM150 for six months, or RM200 instead of RM450 for 12 months.

Existing Passport holders will also be able to renew their membership for a year at RM200.

Then there is the Ultimate Pass, where guests will get a year's worth of unlimited access to Sunway Lagoon and Lost World of Tambun, including a free month when they sign up at the booth.

Watch Sam and Elsa in action here:

For more, visit the Sunway Lagoon website.