Siberian-Bengal tiger new addition

Published 11:40 am Thursday, January 19, 2012

A 4-month-old Siberian-Bengal tiger was recently acquired by Bear Path Acres Animal Education Center. SUBMITTED

FRANKLIN—Debbie Jeter’s new 4-month-old “kitten” weighs 55 pounds.

Named Chief, his favorite toy is a one-gallon milk jug with a little dog food in it, which makes noise when he bats it around.

The Siberian-Bengal tiger is the newest addition to Bear Path Acres Animal Education Center. Between 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, the non-profit will open its doors out of season for his debut.

“We want to give (people) the chance to see him while he’s small,” said Jeter, chief executive officer and founder of Bear Path Acres. “(Come) the regular season, he will be a lot bigger.”

Chief will grow to be 500 to 800 pounds. Daily he will eat the equivalent of a deer’s front shoulder and half a rib cage, Jeter said.

Black Creek Hunt Club donated all of the 180 deer killed this season by members to Bear Path Acres, which also has a cougar and black leopard.

Chief came from Michigan.

“They called us,” Jeter said. “The U.S.D.A (Department of Agriculture) has a golden rule, where large animals can be used from 8 to 12 weeks old for public interaction for pictures and stuff like that. This place purchased him for four, money-making weeks.”

Chief was donated to Bear Path Acres. Jeter picked him up in Toledo, Ohio, with a van.

For now, Jeter has the tiger inside her home because he doesn’t have a winter coat.

“He’s so loving, very playful and very tame,” she said. “He interacts with the dogs. The lady who had him did a wonderful job teaching him not to bite and use his claws.”

Chief will moved into a habitat built for the leopard and the leopard will be moved into quarters that are under construction.

“The tiger will take the leopard’s habitat because the black leopard didn’t grow as much as we thought he would,” Jeter said.