BROUSSARD — The newest residents of the Zoo of Acadiana are receiving many visitors since their arrival about a week ago.
Two golden Bengal tiger cubs, a brother and sister, were recently acquired by the zoo through its foundation, Friends of the Zoo of Acadiana.
The animals light-colored stripes make them among the rarest in their species, said Matt Oldenburg, the zoo’s general manager.
“All tigers are endangered, and within the variations of the Bengal tiger, these golden Bengals are the most rare,” he said.
The animals were born on a breeding preserve in Florida and spent their first weeks in an Alabama zoo until their “forever home,” could be found, said George Oldenburg, zoo owner and director.
The cubs now have a home. Now they need names.
The zoo is asking its patrons who visit the tiger cubs to submit suggestions during a contest that ends Wednesday.
Last week, one family watching the young female play suggested Canaille — in Cajun French Canaille often means mischievous — which led to the suggestion for her brother to be named Couillon — which often means crazy or goofy in Cajun French.
The names may fit the young animals’ personalities at the moment.
“The boy is real cool and playful,” Matt Oldenburg said. “She’s more mischievous.”
Hundreds of names have been submitted for the duo. Some are nods to the local culture such as Gumbo and Filé, Cade and Anna, Boudreaux and Thibodeaux and Canaille and Couillon while others are famous duos such as Fred and Wilma or Belle and Gaston.
The animals are about 17 weeks old and weigh about 35 pounds as of a few days ago. They’re growing quickly with changes noted just in their first week on the grounds, Oldenburg said.
The male will grow to about 500 pounds while the female will grow to about 300 pounds, Oldenburg said.
The cubs are hand-fed three, 3-ounce bottles of “puppy milk,” which is found in pet stores, and about 3 pounds of meat each day, he said.
The cubs usually go into what he calls a “milk coma” after their nourishment and take it easy and rest.
“Just like any baby,” George Oldenburg said.
After the cubs’ midday feeding Thursday, both stretched out for a few moments before walking to one side of the enclosure to lay out again atop the dirt. The male quickly became distracted by a long blade of grass that he moved with his paw and his sister gnawed on a twig. The male then began slowly stalking his sister until she quickly moved away to chase a ball Matt Oldenburg rolled her way.
Interaction with the animals is designed to help with their development, he said. He stacked small logs in the enclosure and the cubs climbed the pieces of wood and slowed their movements when they began to teeter.
“They’re paws have outgrown their body and they’re still working on balance,” Matt Oldenburg said.
The zoo makes efforts to acquire baby animals for their patrons, the Oldenburgs said.
The last “baby” the zoo held a naming contest for was a white tiger, Jolie, about eight years ago.
“They can follow the animals as they grow,” Matt Oldenburg said. “We don’t just have a white tiger. We have Jolie, the white tiger, and people have seen Jolie grow up.”
Now, they can watch — Belle and Gaston, Eunice and Maurice or maybe Bonnie and Clyde — grow into their paws.