We enjoy getting to know the mysterious minds of the wild creatures that move around us so we jumped at the chance to interview Berapi Api (pictured below), the Palm Beach Zoo’s rare, majestic Malayan tiger who is seconds from giving birth.
Here she dishes on her baby daddy, tiger cravings, and the best part of being preggers.
The Vivant: Congratulations on your pregnancy. Since you’re not feeling 100-percent, we will keep our interview short.
(Berati bares her teeth in what we assume is a smile.)
TV: Tigers are pregnant for 16 weeks or so. What stage are you at?
BA: I am in my final stages and about to give birth any day now. I am so ready.
You’ve already mothered three litters, including two with Mata. Do you enjoy having children?
I am what zookeepers like to call “a mature, experienced mother.” They’re cautious because I abandoned two of my previous litters. I took care of my last litter, so they are optimistic this time will go well.
How many cubs would you like to have?
A litter of one or four tigers is dangerous for survival. Those numbers don’t do well. I’m hoping for twins or triplets.
Do you want boys, girls, or both?
I bore three sons in my last litter. I really want girls this time. The zookeepers say they hope I’m baking some females. Births in captivity tend to skew male, so more females would be an important contribution.
Have you picked any names yet?
That happens only after the cubs’ sexes have been determined. Last time, the zoo sponsors named my sons Jaya, Bunga, and Penari.
We love your name. Does it have special meaning?
Thank you, it means “fiery one.” My keepers tell me it’s appropriate.
What do you love most about being pregnant?
I am calm, happy, and relaxed when I am pregnant. It is a fulfilling time for me.
What do you like least?
I wish these cubs wouldn’t kick so (expletive deleted) much! I am honored to be a part of something bigger than myself. Malayan tigers are an endangered species and it is an important responsibility to ensure our own survival.
Many human mothers-to-be can have all kinds of strange cravings. What are yours?
My appetite hasn’t changed but they will double my diet after I give birth so that I receive the proper nutrition during nursing.
We don’t want to leave Mata out. Is he excited to be a father again?
Mata’s an affectionate father, which is unusual. Malayan tigers are solitary animals and only come together to breed. We were separated afterward because that’s how it would be in the wild. Mata and I chuff at each other every day which is tiger talk for: “Hello, how are you?”
What pregnancy advice would you give to future tiger mothers?
Timing is everything, so take it nice and slow. When Mata and I first “howdied,” or when we were introduced, he didn’t like me very much. But that’s because he’d only seen my face. Once he got a look at my full, sexy figure, he fell in love. Now we’re making beautiful babies.
Photo of Berapi Api courtesy of Stacey Konwiser/Palm Beach Zoo
Palm Beach Zoo
1301 Summit Boulevard
West Palm Beach, FL 33405