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Video: Siberian tiger named Nika sprays family at Omaha zoo

Video: Siberian tiger named Nika sprays family at Omaha zoo

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Skip DeBusk of Papillion said animals will be animals.

On Thursday, a 10-year-old Siberian tiger named Nika sprayed DeBusk’s wife, Kyle DeBusk, and their two kids while they were visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.

Kyle had never seen the tiger as active in its cage, so she made sure to get the animal on video. Just as the tiger turned away, it sprayed her and the kids.

“You don’t get that kind of experience from watching tigers on TV,” Skip said.

Their 4-year-old daughter is laughing about it now, he said, but their 10-month-old son was just confused when it happened.

“Everyone got a really good bath last night,” Skip said.

The DeBusks have been zoo members for at least a decade, and Skip said nothing like that had happened before.

Afterward, Skip tweeted the video with: “The kids and wife got sprayed by a tiger today.”

The occurrence follows a video that went viral last month when a gorilla rammed into its cage wall and cracked the glass.

Dennis Pate, the zoo’s director, said the tiger’s spray, made mostly of urine, is a form of communication. Tigers will spray vertical objects such as trees or boulders to communicate with other tigers. He said it’s similar to when dogs are on walks and constantly sniffing the ground for other animals.

“It’s much more than a bathroom break to them,” Pate said. “It’s like reading the newspaper. They can get so much information from sniffing around.”

The director said that when a tiger lifts its tail, spectators usually have time to move out of the way, but occasionally the spray will reach a zoo visitor.

“The end result is usually a fantastic story about your day at the zoo,” Pate said. “How often can you say you got sprayed by an endangered tiger?”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1151, natasha.rausch@owh.com

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