Sumatran tiger cub Nelson for International Tiger Day.
Sumatran tiger cub Nelson for International Tiger Day. Ben Beaden

Adorable new tiger cub really earning his stripes

WATCHING Sumatran tiger cub Nelson bound around the grassy hill of his Australia Zoo enclosure, his oversized feet doing their best to keep up, I could have confused him for a domestic kitten were it not for his vibrant markings.

And that's just how head of tigers Geoff Neubecker described the eight-week-old bundle of fur.

"People would probably be very surprised when they see Nelson here that he has the same sort or mannerisms, the same sort of characteristics, that your domestic cat displays," he said.

"He does exactly the same thing."

READ: The great big role of Australia Zoo's pint-sized tiger cub

While we know the impressive conservation work the zoo does, I can never help but feel a little uncomfortable seeing a wild animal surrounding by glass panes and wire.

But Nelson's innocent and goofy display was quickly overshadowed by an even darker reality as Geoff spoke to reporters in front of the enclosure.

Sumatran tigers are critically endangered with numbers diminishing rapidly due to poachers seeking bones and body parts.

The image of Nelson's fluffy little face nuzzling into his keeper's was engrained in my mind for the rest of the day, as I imagine it would be for the other zoo visitors.

And I can see why charismatic cubs are used to capture our attention.

Nelson has a very important job, which outweighs his entertaining qualities or any guilt we may feel for his boundaries.

The world is a very scary place for creatures with no voice.

While we can't hear the Sumatran tigers' cries, little Nelson is making us see their struggle.