Roberto Cavalli with Tigre

381. My four months with Tigre…

Roberto Cavalli with Tigre381. My four months with Tigre…

Early one morning… I get a call from Ambra Orfei… a dear friend who shares with me a great love for animals. “Roberto, my tiger has given birth to three cubs: the most beautiful one a male has scratched himself against the cage. We fear that at the sight of blood the mother might kill him. He’s only fifty days old… must be nursed with a bottle… do you think you could nurse him and keep him alive? You can only do it if you are prepared to dedicate the time and love he will need.”

I accept with enthusiasm and rush to the Orfei Circus where Ambra is waiting for me with my future baby. She give me all the necessary instructions… I am incredibly eager to begin my job as a full-time tiger mom! I decide to call him Tigre – the Italian name for tiger.

I involve my whole family. Tigre is wonderful and eager to drink milk. I am equipped with the same nécessaire you use for babies, except one! The biggest problem is the “poo”. Ambra explained to me that a mother tigress stimulates the baby tiger with her rough tongue, typical of the feline!

Lacking a tigress’s tongue I had to improvise with a cotton ball to create, for little Tigre, the same stimulus. It is not easy. Sometimes I have to rub for ten minutes, Tigre struggles, gets anxious and bares his young fangs in a snarl. He wants to show his real tiger nature! Finally, when he starts to do his business, I shout with satisfaction and the whole family takes part in the “Finally…”.

For Tigre I am his mother and he cannot do without me. The biggest problem is that… he begins to grow! He is stubborn and wants all he desires. I take him out in the park and he starts to play with my dogs!

I begin to make plans for the future. Certain religious people in India have learned to live with tigers and I start to research how I can best continue my relationship with little Tigre.

A business trip forces me to leave urgently for New York. I trust the care of Tigre to Eva and the children.

I soon find myself missing little Tigre. One morning Tigre shows how much is missing me by hiding himself under some furniture. He roars and shows his claws if anyone approaches him. Eva calls me in New York. She wants help for little troublesome Tigre that I cannot give from New York!

When I return to Florence I look for little Tigre who is nowhere to be seen. He is gone! Eva asked the help of Ambra and Tigre was return to his real tiger mother!

I cuddled him for four months and when I came back he was gone! Tears welled up in my eyes and I started to cry quietly like a real mother in grief!

I could have gone to Milan to get him back, but the wisdom of Eva opened my eyes and made me realize that what had happen was for the better for little Tigre…


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