Nepti the Tiger
In 1952 1st/7th Gurkha Rifles were stationed in Negri Sembilan in Malaya, during the Malayan Emergency.
Whilst on a routine patrol, a group of Gurkha soldiers from No. 4 Platoon, ‘B’ Company, 1st/7th Gurkha Rifles stumbled across the body of a dead female tiger, sat next to which was a small and distressed tiger cub. Not wishing to remain in the vicinity any longer than was necessary, the patrol made the decision to take the cub with them back to their base. The cub was introduced to the camp and, aware that such a young cub would be unlikely to survive long on its own in the jungle, the Gurkha soldiers took the decision to keep the tiger.
After briefly being sent to a local rubber plantation (where Nepti delighted the manager’s two daughters but proved too boisterous for their mother’s liking and quickly returned), Nepti spent the next few months amongst the Gurkha’s lines, getting to know the soldiers and ‘greeting’ new visitors with a playful gnaw on an ankle. Though popular, she grew quickly (assisted by a diet of milk and pork chops, by all accounts her favourite food) and it was soon realised that a fully-grown tiger would be too much of a hazard for the camp. The decision was taken to send Nepti on, and luckily a deal was soon struck with London Zoo, who agreed to take her in.
Nepti arrived at London Zoo on the 18th of August 1952 and remained there for the rest of her life, having two cubs of her own. In 1953, as part of the Coronation Contingent sent from 7th Gurkha Rifles, some of the soldiers who had originally found and took care of Nepti travelled to London and were once again able to see her in her new environment.