Great Cats keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo have some big news to share about their new Sumatran Tiger cub…it’s a boy!
Over a period of a few days, keepers were able to get a quick look at the cub and weigh him when mother, 8-year-old Damai, left the den to eat. The cub appears to be healthy and strong. Shortly after his birth on July 11, he weighed about three-and-a-half pounds. A week ago, he weighed six-and-a-half pounds.
“It can be difficult to determine the sex of a neonate cat because genitalia can look very similar for the first few weeks,” said Craig Saffoe, curator of Great Cats. “However, at a glance, it appears that Damai has a male cub! His first veterinary exam will take place in a couple of weeks, which includes a physical exam and vaccinations. We should be able to confirm the cub’s sex during that exam.”
Photo Credits: Roshan Patel/ Smithsonian's National Zoo
The cub’s birth marked an important milestone for the Zoo. This is the second litter for mother, Damai, but the first for 13-year-old father, Sparky. Keepers are monitoring Damai and her offspring via a closed-circuit camera, allowing the family time to bond. Although the cub will not make his public debut until later this fall, Zoo visitors can see Sparky and the cub’s half-sibling, 3-year-old male Bandar, at their Great Cats habitat. The Zoo will also provide updates on the cub via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
On July 21, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden received a female Amur Tiger cub. The cub’s journey to Oklahoma is the result of the combined efforts of two amazing zoo teams and tiger conservation experts.
Born at the Philadelphia Zoo on July 10, the cub is named Zoya, meaning “life” in Russian. Zoya is the first offspring of 10-year-old mother, Koosaka, and 9-year-old father, Grom. Koosaka gave birth to five cubs, a large litter for tigers. Unfortunately, two were stillborn, a third was accidentally injured by Koosaka and did not survive, and a fourth developed a critical gastro intestinal issue that proved fatal, even with medical intervention by Philadelphia Zoo veterinarians.
The surviving cub, Zoya, was not being nurtured by Koosaka. According to experts, a lack of maternal behavior is not uncommon among first-time mother tigers who sometimes neglect or reject cubs. As a result, Philadelphia Zoo’s animal care team bottle-fed and continuously cared for the cub who continued to do well, gaining weight from about 2 pounds at birth to almost 4 pounds at 10 days old.
However, the Philadelphia Zoo’s animal care team was concerned about hand-rearing a single cub without the social opportunities that would be provided with either a mother or littermates.
“With this single cub, we knew that the best scenario for her was to find an opportunity for her to grow up with other tigers,” said Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer.
Photo Credits: Gretchen Cole (Image 1); Philadelphia Zoo (2-4); Oklahoma City Zoo (5); Gillian Lang (6,7)
In discussions with colleagues involved in the Tiger Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Oklahoma City Zoo offered to attempt to integrate the Philadelphia Zoo cub with their new litter of Sumatran Tigers.
The Oklahoma City Zoo’s litter of three Sumatran Tiger cubs was born just one day before the Philadelphia Zoo’s Amur Tiger litter. Oklahoma’s six-year-old Sumatran Tiger mom, Lola, has been taking very good care of her own cubs.
After consultation between Philadelphia Zoo, the Oklahoma City Zoo, and other AZA colleagues, the teams decided the best option for the cub to grow up in a good social environment was for the Oklahoma City Zoo to attempt to cross-foster Zoya with Lola and her cubs.
Cross-fostering is the process of removing offspring from one mother and transferring them to another lactating mother with offspring of the same approximate age. “Cross-fostering in tigers is unusual, but with less than 500 Amur Tigers in the wild, every cub is important for the species’ survival,” said Dr. Rebecca Snyder, curator of conservation and science, Oklahoma City Zoo.
In 2011, the Oklahoma City Zoo successfully cross-fostered a litter of endangered African Painted Dogs with a Golden Retriever who had recently given birth. However, cross-fostering among tigers is rare, with only a few cases having ever been attempted and documented.
A forty-year-old dream has come true with the birth of the first Amur Tiger cub at Debrecen Zoo & Amusement Park. The handsome cub is now more than 7-weeks-old and has remained in healthy condition.
There are only around 3,600 tigers in the World, and half of them are living in Zoos and Wildlife sanctuaries. Debrecen Zoo & Amusement Park has been keeping the Amur Tiger subspecies since 1973.
This subspecies, along with the Sumatran Tiger subspecies, is part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (EAZA) European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
The parents of the new tiger cub are: Mishka, who arrived from Zoo African Safari, and first-time mother, Rose, who was born at Port Lympne Reserve. The pair arrived at Debrecen in 2014 and, according to keepers, quickly “fell in love”.
Photo Credits: Debrecen Zoo & Amusement Park
Unfortunately, new mother Rose’s maternal instincts did not kick in after the cub was born. Zookeepers made the important decision to hand-raise the cub in an effort to ensure his proper care. Debrecen staff relates that it’s not uncommon for first-time tiger moms not to know what to do. They want to communicate that their colleagues are doing their best to help him grow strong and healthy.
The curious cub is now welcoming visitors every day at 10AM and 2PM, in the Zoo’s Tiger Exhibit.
A newborn endangered Amur Tiger cub has been reunited with her mother thanks to the work of keepers at the Minnesota Zoo.
The female cub was born on April 26 and removed for hand-raising when Sundari, a first-time mom, wasn’t showing the necessary level of care for her baby. Although the tiny cub needed immediate feeding by zoo staff, they did not give up on their goal of keeping mom and baby together. Sundari just needed a little encouragement.
Photo Credit: Minnesota Zoo
Keepers repeatedly showed the cub to Sundari through a protective barrier over several days. When Sundari showed no signs of aggression toward her cub, keepers successfully reunited the pair.
So far, mom and cub appear to be bonding, and the staff closely monitors the cub to make sure she is getting enough milk. Keepers still provide supplemental feedings to ensure the baby’s health.
Mom and baby will remain behind the scenes while the keeper staff monitors their health. The zoo has set up a special webpage that will soon include a live web cam to view the new Tiger cub.
This is the first offspring for mother, Sundari, who was born at the Minnesota Zoo in June of 2012. Father, 7-year-old Putin has sired two other litters in Denmark, where he lived before coming to the Minnesota Zoo in 2015. Putin was brought to the Minnesota Zoo as a recommendation of the Amur Tiger Global Species Management Plan, which is co-coordinated by Minnesota Zoo staff. He is the most genetically valuable Amur Tiger in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Tiger Species Survival Plan® (SSP), underscoring the zoo’s groundbreaking efforts to reunite this cub with her mother. Coordinated by Minnesota Zoo staff for more than three decades, the Tiger SSP recommended Sundari and Putin as a breeding pair.
“He’s more than just a large, warm pillow for the cubs. Blakely is the adult in the room. He teaches them proper Tiger etiquette by checking them when they’re getting too rough or aggressive,” said Dawn Strasser, head of Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery staff. “This is something that their human surrogates can’t do.”
Photo Credits: Mark Dumont, DJJam, Lisa Hubbard
The cubs, named Chira (because she was treated by a chiropractor), Batari (which means goddess) and Izzy (which means promised by God,) would have received similar cues from their mom. Because being with her is not an option, Blakely is the next best thing. His baby-rearing resume includes experience with Cheetahs, an Ocelot, a Takin, a Warthog, Wallabies, Skunks, and Bat-eared Foxes. Last year, to recognize Blakely’s nurturing nature, the City of Cincinnati proclaimed October 19 to be Blakely Day!
“My team can feed and care for the Tiger cubs, but we can’t teach them the difference between a play bite and one that means ‘watch out’. So, that’s Blakely’s job,” said Strasser. “Just a little time with him at this early age will help them learn behaviors that will come in handy when they meet Tigers at other zoos in the future.” The cubs will move to the Zoo’s Cat Canyon this summer after they have received their last round of immunizations.
Malayan Tigers are Critically Endangered, with fewer than 250 breeding-age adults living in the wild. Less than 100 of these Cats live in zoos, making these three cubs – and Blakely’s job as caregiver – incredibly important to the effort to save Malayan Tigers.
See more photos of Blakely and the Tiger cubs below.
You first met the cubs on ZooBorns when the zoo announced that the trio would be cared for by zoo keepers because their mother did not care for them. Thanks to the staff’s dedication and hard work, the cubs are thriving.
Photo Credits: Kathy Newton, Cassandre Crawford, DJJAM Photo, Mark Desmond
“They’re fed by nursery staff six times a day and have already graduated from two to three ounces per feeding,” said Mike Dulaney, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo and vice coordinator of the Malayan Tiger SSP. “Before they open their eyes, they usually just eat and sleep. Now that they can see where they’re going, they will start to become more active.”
One of the cubs, referred to as #1 until the cubs’ genders are known and names are given, is receiving special care from a local chiropractor to help it keep up with the others. Soon after the cubs arrived in the Nursery, caregivers noticed that #1 was having trouble holding its head up.
“It was obvious to me that something wasn’t right. The cub’s neck appeared to be stuck at an odd angle,” said Dawn Strasser, a 35-year veteran in the Zoo’s Nursery. “Massaging the neck muscles helped with the stiffness, but the cub was increasingly lethargic and not suckling well.”
Strasser reached out to Dr. Mark Sperbeck, a chiropractor who works on humans and animals of all sizes (from 3-pound Tiger cub to 1,000-pound Horse) and asked him to make a house call. Three adjustments later, it’s difficult to see a difference between #1 and its litter mates. The neck and spine are back in place and the cub is eating well. It’s actually a little larger than the other two.
According to Dr. Sperbeck, the cub’s top cervical bone (C1) was out of alignment. Since 95% of the body’s nerve impulses travel through this vertebra, he explained, it’s key to proper body function. “After the first adjustment, the cub slept for almost 24 hours and woke with improved mobility, strength and suckling ability,” said Strasser.
This is the first time that the zoo has called in a chiropractor, but it has a long history of collaborating with experts from outside the zoo, including dentists, imaging technicians, medical specialists.
Malayan Tigers are Endangered with fewer than 500 left in the world. Major reasons for the population decline include habitat destruction, fragmentation and poaching.
Three Malayan Tiger cubs were born February 3 at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and are now being cared for in the Zoo’s nursery. First-time mom Cinta’s maternal instincts did not kick in, and vets, concerned that the cubs' body temperatures would dip too low without the warmth of mom's body, made the call to remove them from the den.
“It’s not uncommon for first-time Tiger moms not to know what to do. They can be aggressive and even harm or kill the cubs," said Mike Dulaney, Curator of Mammals and Vice Coordinator of the Malayan Tiger SSP. “Nursery staff is keeping them warm and feeding them every three hours.”
The cubs will be cared for in the nursery for now and will move to Cat Canyon when they’re weaned and no longer require constant care. Visitors should be able to see them playing and running around in their outdoor habitat in early spring.
“The three will grow up together. They will not be re-introduced to their mom as she would not recognize them as her own after a prolonged separation,” said Dulaney.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo welcomed its first critically endangered Malayan Tiger cub on September 11, and the beautiful girl, named Berisi, recently made her public debut!
The cub was born to Bzui (pronounced Ba-ZOO-ee), and has been cared for, by mom, in a den off exhibit.
“The cub is growing normally and nursing well,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, the Zoo’s Chief Zoological Officer. “Our Zoo is proud to be working to preserve a species like the Malayan tiger, which is facing a growing number of threats in the wild.”
New mother, Bzui, arrived at the Zoo last spring to join her mate, Mata, on a recommendation from the Association of Zoo’s and Aquarium’s Malayan Tiger Species Survival Plan.
Photo Credits: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
The Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) subspecies was not recognized officially until 2004. They are the smallest in size of all tiger species, with an average weight of 260 pounds for adult males and 220 pounds for females.
Poaching and rapid habitat decline are the primary causes for their continued population decline. Heightened human and animal conflict, due to expanding development, has also been a factor in their endangerment. For these reasons, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Malayan Tiger as “Critically Endangered”.
Aside from maintaining a breeding program, the Lowry Park Zoo also offers regular tiger trainer talks and demonstrations, at their Asian Gardens habitat. By helping guests understand and make a connection with animals at their facility, the Zoo hopes they can encourage others to care and protect this at-risk species.
Christmas gifts aren't just for people - the animals at ZSL London Zoo got their paws on Christmas presents this year, too!
Six-month-old Sumatran Tiger cubs Achilles and Karis woke up to a pile of pretty presents to rip open, while the Meerkat mob merrily munched on pinecone ornaments stuffed with veggies, hanging from a Christmas tree.
Photo Credit: ZSL London Zoo
Zoological Manager Mark Habben said, “We love a bit of festive cheer at ZSL London Zoo, and like to find fun ways for the animals to join in the festivities."
“We’ve come up with a variety of activities to encourage them to use their natural skills, like foraging or sniffing out their next meal: our Tiger cubs loved using their newly learnt hunting prowess to rip open their presents, while our Meerkats searched for their treats under the tree - just like kids all over the country on Christmas day.”
The Milwaukee County Zoo’s three Amur Tiger cubs made their public debut on December 2 in the Zoo’s Florence Mila Borchert Big Cat Country. The cubs, one male and two females, have been named: Kashtan, Eloise and Bernadette.
While all three cubs are currently doing well, the male, Kashtan, was transferred to the Zoo’s Animal Health Center in October. Little Kashtan was not gaining weight steadily, and he had developed an abscess on one of his legs (possibly due to a lack of immunity). Vet staff cultured and flushed the abscess, and he was given a course of antibiotics. He returned to Big Cat Country on October 24.
When it becomes necessary to remove newborn Zoo animals from the family group, the mother may not always accept the animal when placed back into the group. Staff reports that Amba has consistently shown excellent maternal care with all of her offspring. But because Kashtan had an infection, and there can be many unknowns in reuniting him with mom after so much time passed, staff determined there were too many risks to putting them back together. Female Tigers also have the potential to injure offspring if reintroductions are attempted. The primary concern of the Zoo’s animal care staff is to avoid any risk of injury to the cub.
Kashtan is now being hand-raised by keepers; weaned from a bottle, and eating meat. He is regularly placed with his sisters, in one of the indoor exhibits, for socialization and exercise.
Zoo visitors can see Kashton, singularly, in one of the indoor exhibits in Big Cat Country. At times, zookeepers will be in the exhibit with Kashtan, offering him interaction, socialization and feedings, as part of the hand-raising process. The exhibit will also feature enrichment items (objects that allow him to show his natural behaviors), which are important for his neurocognitive and physical development.
As all three Tigers learn how to become adults, they need to interact with a variety of toys/enrichment items. Anyone interested in purchasing any of these items for the cubs can visit the Zoo’s Amazon Wish List: Tiger Cub Wish List
When the Tiger sisters, Eloise and Bernadette, are not on exhibit with Kashtan, they can be seen with mother, Amba, in the indoor Tiger Exhibit.