Berapi, the Palm Beach Zoo’s female Malayan tiger gave birth on Thursday, May 12th, to a trio of cubs. This marks the first tiger birth to ever happen at the zoo.
Berapi began showing signs of labor early in the evening and by 10:48 p.m. the first cub was born. Over the next several hours, two more cubs came into the world. The Mom is exhibiting excellent maternal behaviors while Zoo staff continue round-the-clock monitoring of her and the cubs using video cameras to minimize any intrusion during this very sensitive time.
Based on video footage, all three cubs appear healthy. Neonatal exams will be performed in the near future and the sex of the cubs will be determined then. But for now, Palm Beach Zoo President Terry Maple says they are letting the mother take care of her babies.
The birth of healthy cubs at the Palm Beach Zoo is a significant achievement, as the cubs will be important contributors to the genetic diversity of the overall population. These cubs are only the second litter of Malayan tigers to be born in captivity this year. Malayan tigers are among the smallest of the tiger species and named after the Malay Peninsula where they are found. In the 1950's there were an estimated 3,000 tigers there but today, fewer than 500 are estimated to be left in the wild.
The video below starts with night vision footage of the babies first moments of life.
Initially, decline in tiger numbers was primarily due to a great loss of habitat but more recently, the greater threat has been from poaching for its body parts, persecution by angry villagers, and starvation as their prey is over-harvested.