The Predator Department

The Yerevan Zoo is home to about 33 species of predators, such as the Bengal Tiger, the Caucasian Lynx, the Jaguar, the Siberian Tiger, the African Lion, and so on.

“The lions instinct is strong and at a time of danger or alarm they respond very quickly. The tigers are more relaxed, the jaguars are noble, calm, and respectable”, this is how the animals are described by  Yunona Khanzadyan, the head of the department of predators for the past 24 years. Even though the lions live in cages, they do not forget their natural instincts. Feeding time is very interesting with them, especially when the mother teaches the cub the “traditional nuances” of preying. In many zoos around the world the cubs are left in the same space with the father of the family. This is not the practice in Yerevan Zoo: we separate the father from the cubs to avoid the possibility of him hurting the little ones.

However, Yunona Khanzadyan thinks the lion is trying to protect his family from the animals in the neighboring cages. The animals are usually jealous towards their own cubs. There are even cases when they hurt their own younglings because of human intervention. The picture is different in Yerevan Zoo. There have even been cases when the mother lion has trusted the caretakers to interact with the cubs at different ages. However, emergency situations cannot be completely excluded when dealing with predators. Yunona Khanzadyan remembers how a lion once hurted her hand years ago. Notwithstanding, the zookeeper’s love for the animals has helped her forgive the lion.

The caretaker of the large predators Arman Petrosyan lists some interesting characteristics of the animals. He believes that the predators living in an enclosed environment are different from their relatives living in the wild. The free animal only thinks about prey, but the animals at the zoo do not have that concern.

From his rich experience of many years Arman selected two interesting stories: after catching the piece of meat with great effort during feeding time, a four month-old cub took the prey to its mother, so they could eat it together.

The bear cubs are very playful too. Arman remembers how one of the cubs kept escaping the bear enclosure through a widening it had found in the bars. And even though the father bear could not get out of the cage, he would get angry with the cub and slap the little one to teach it a lesson, just like in the animated film “Mowgli”.