The Smithsonian's National Zoo's family of Sumatran Tigers has grown by two! On Monday, August 5, the Zoo's female tiger, Damai, gave birth to a pair of cubs. Damai has been a great mother to the cubs, who are her first litter. She has been observed grooming and nursing them. Keepers are remotely monitoring Damai and her cubs, allowing the new family time and space to bond.
Damai arrived at the Zoo in over two years ago and Kavi, the father, arrived one year ago. The two were paired as a recommendation from the AZA's Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan. Over the course of six months, they were slowly introduced to each other. In June, Damai began gaining weight and exhibiting behaviors that indicated she could be pregnant. On June 21, staff performed an ultrasound and confirmed the pregnancy. “It’s taken more than two years of perseverance getting to know Damai and Kavi and letting them get to know each other so that we could reach this celebratory moment,” said Craig Saffoe. “All I can do is smile because the team has realized our goal of producing critically endangered tiger cubs. Damai came to us as a young tiger herself, so it’s really special to see her become a great mom.”
The cub comes as a victory for the species. Sumatran Tigers are Critically Endangered, with an estimated 400-500 individuals in the wild. In addition to these cubs, there are just 65 Sumatran Tigers living in North American accredited zoos.