The best things in life are worth waiting for and at the United Kingdom’s Banham Zoo, female Amur Tigress Sveta made her keepers wait longer than expected before giving birth to twins on June 14.
Keepers had expected Sveta to give birth up to 6 days prior to the day the cubs arrived and had been monitoring closed circuit TV cameras day and night for signs that she might be ready to give birth.
When the cubs finally arrived, keepers were able to watch the birth via the live camera link, giving Sveta complete privacy.
The twins are making excellent progress. An external monitor allows zoo guests to view the cubs without any intrusion whatsoever to the new family.
The newborn cubs are very important additions to the European captive breeding program for Amur Tigers. Kuzma, the cubs' father, was born at Banham Zoo in 2008 and was recently ranked as one of the most important males in the breeding program. His genes are poorly represented within the captive population so breeding him was considered a high priority. His mate, Sveta, arrived from Portugal's Lisbon Zoo in 2011 and this is their first successful litter together.
Amur Tigers are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Recent information indicates that there are less than 400 Amur Tigers left in the wilds of far eastern Russia. Captive breeding could be a critical factor for the survival of the world’s largest cat.