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The Daily Treat: It's Sink or Swim for the National Zoo's Tiger Cubs

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At 3 months old, most human babies are just building the muscle strength to hold up their necks. For baby tigers, it’s a different story.

On Wednesday, two tiger cubs born at the Smithsonian National Zoo on Aug. 5 were brought out for their swim reliability test, a rite of passage they must complete before being put on display. With photographers and keepers Dell Guglielmo and Marie Magnuson looking on, each cub was individually tossed into a pool of water 2½-ft. deep. Bandar, the male cub, successfully swam back up to the surface within minutes, though he later leapt from the moat and scurried away. No photos, please!

Shortly after, it was female cub Sukacita’s turn, but she was less inclined to swim than her brother. After having to be pushed back into the water – which elicited a growl! – she too successfully passed the swimming test.

“Tigers are one of the few species of cats that enjoy taking a dip in water,” Craig Saffoe, the zoo’s curator of great cats, said in a press release. “Our job is to make sure that if the cubs venture into the moat, they know how and where to get out.”