Mek, a female Malayan Tiger at Fresno Chaffee Zoo in California, has given birth to not one but four cubs! The litter, born on January 5, will remain in the den to bond with mom for the next few months.
At ten days-old, a veterinary checkup on the cubs found that everyone so far is healthy, strong and thriving. The sexes of the cubs have also been determined: two females and two males.
Visitors to the zoo can take peek at the mother and cubs on a live video monitor set up outside the exhibit. The cubs' father, Paka, will stay on exhibit. (In the wild, male tigers don't help to rear their own young.)
Tigers are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List. According to the zoo, only about 3,000 tigers remain in the wild, and of those only around 500 are Malayan Tigers, a subspecies that inhabits the Malay Peninsula. Tigers are threatened by habitat loss and poaching.
Mek and Paka are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which coordinates breeding of tigers between zoos in order to maintain healthy genetics in the captive population. The birth of these four cubs is great news for the conservation of these cats.