Tiger Sisters Raise Awareness for Endangered Species

Tiger cubs jan 23 2017

Remarkably, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s ten-year-old Amur Tiger, Changbai, gave birth to four cubs on November 25.

However, only two survived. When keepers observed Changbai showing little interest in caring for the two surviving females, the cubs were removed and taken into the care of the keepers.

Zoo staff members were aware of the Changbai’s pregnancy through fecal hormone testing, and had been keeping a 24-hour watch on the expectant mom. A female tiger at the age of ten has only a twenty percent change of a successful pregnancy, so good husbandry and a quick response from the animal care team makes a difference. When Zoo staff saw that the first-born kitten unresponsive, and that Changbai was not interested in grooming or nursing the remaining kittens, a decision was made to remove them to begin feeding. A second kitten died later that first night.

Zoo veterinarians and animal care staff have since been providing around the clock care and supervision for the remaining cubs, named Reka and Zeya. The two kittens’ survival is an important step forward in maintaining the genetic diversity of Amur Tigers worldwide, an endangered species that is rapidly disappearing from the wild.

Tiger Cub Reka

Tiger cub by olivia grahamPhoto Credits: Beardsley Zoo (Images 1,2,4)/ Olivia Graham (Image 3)

Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as Siberian Tigers, are very rare. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) statistics, today’s Tigers are thought to occupy less than seven percent of their original range: Korea, north-eastern China, Russian Far East, and eastern Mongolia. They are currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Threatened by habitat loss and degradation, poaching, tiger-human conflict, and loss of prey, four of nine subspecies have disappeared from the wild just in the past hundred years. The future of the Amur Tiger has been a major concern of the world’s zoos for many years.

All Tigers now have protected status in the wild, but that doesn’t guarantee their safety. A breeding program recommendation comes from the Species Survival Plan (SSP), administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in accredited zoos. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is home to the parents: male, Petya, and female, Changbai, who joined the Zoo family last winter. Managed by the SSP, inter-regional transfers are arranged with careful attention to gene diversity in the hope that successful breeding will take place.

The Zoo recently announced that a webcam was installed in the nursery of Reka and Zeya, and it is now streaming images in real time, all thanks to Zoo sponsor, Blue Buffalo. Viewers can enjoy watching the cubs live from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. The cubcam is set up in the nursery in the Zoo’s on-site Animal Health Care Center, where the two sisters have been cared for since their birth. To view the cubs, visit the Zoo website at: www.beardsleyzoo.org/tiger-cam/ .

The Zoo recently launched a fundraising campaign through The Impact Vine to raise funds for the planning and design of a renovated Tiger habitat, raising more than $5,000 in a record six days. Donations are still being accepted for enlargement and enhancements to the habitat, which can be made through a link on the cubcam page. There has been intense interest in the cubs, which has helped to raise awareness about endangered species around the world.

Tiger cubs with raised paw

Tiger Cubs Get Their 6-Week Exams - And Their Names


Two male Sumatran Tiger cubs at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens had a big week: they received their first round of vaccinations and were named!

Born on November 20, 2017 to mom Dorcas and dad Berani, the two male cubs are growing well and appear to be in great health. You first met the cubs here on ZooBorns.

The larger of the two cubs weighs 14 pounds and is named “Rocky.” His slightly smaller brother, who weighs about 12 pounds, was dubbed “Jaggar.”

Tiger-cubs-5Photo Credit: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

The zoo’s veterinary staff gave each feisty cub a physical exam, including weighing the cubs, checking their eyes, and inspecting their tiny canine teeth. They cubs were vaccinated against respiratory infections and feline distemper – the same vaccinations given to house cats. Each cub was also microchipped for identification.

While the animal care team can be “hands-on” with the cubs, they never interact directly with adult Tigers. Thanks to daily training sessions that build trust between the animals and the care team, Dorcas voluntarily moves to an adjoining pen while the team examines the cubs.

Over the next two months, the cubs will receive two more rounds of vaccines including boosters and a rabies vaccination.

The now six-week-old cubs need to grow bigger before they are able to explore the outdoor habitat of the public viewing areas. Until then, a live-streaming video of the cubs in their behind-the-scenes nursery den is available on the Zoo’s YouTube channel.

Rocky and Jaggar spend much of their time nursing, sleeping, or being groomed by mom. Each day, the cubs are becoming more mobile and playful, much to the delight of faithful “cub cam” viewers.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Rare Malayan Tiger Cubs Show Their Personalities


Two Critically Endangered Malayan Tiger cubs at the Prague Zoo are beginning to show their personalities.

The cubs – one male and one female – were born on October 3 and only recently came out of the den with their mother, Banya. The animal care team chose the name Bulan for the male and Wanita for the female.

25497962_1558310120919579_5646591906181534560_nPhoto Credit: Prague Zoo

From the start, Wanita was smaller than her brother. She experienced some health problems shortly after birth and has since recovered completely, but Wanita has yet to catch up with her brother’s growth.

Bulan currently weighs 17.5 pounds, and Wanita weighs 13.1 pounds. But keepers say that Wanita makes up for her smaller size with a big personality. Feisty little Wanita is not afraid of anything, while Bulan is more timid. Plus, Wanita has figured out how to roar properly!

Both cubs are healthy and active, and have begun tasting bits of meat in addition to nursing from Banya. They are hugely important to the global effort to save this rare Cat species from extinction. Experts say only 250-340 Malayan Tigers remain in the wild – a precariously low number – and only about 200 are of breeding age. They inhabit only the Malay peninsula in Southeast Asia.

Fragmentation of habitat is a major threat to Malayan Tigers, as is illegal poaching for use of body parts in traditional Asian medicine.

See more photos of Wanita and Bulan below.

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Tiger Cubs Get Their First Checkup at Jacksonville Zoo

Cub one with closed eyesJacksonville Zoo and Gardens is celebrating the birth of two critically endangered Sumatran Tiger cubs. The cubs’ mother, 6-year-old Dorcas, gave birth at 11:40 a.m. on November 20. The Tigers’ keepers were able to keep an eye on the process using a closed-circuit camera system.

Both cubs are male and represent the second litter for Dorcas and father, Berani. The Zoo’s first Sumatran Tiger birth in its 102-year history is big sister Kinleigh Rose, born on November 19, 2015 – two years and a day before the arrival of her little brothers. 

Cub one with closed eyes
Cub one with closed eyesPhoto Credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

“One of the biggest pleasures as the Zoo’s Tiger-management program evolves, is watching the effect that it has on the wellness of our animals,” said Dan Dembiec, Supervisor of Mammals. “Dorcas started out as a skittish and shy Tigress, but she is now a confident and skilled mother.  She is a natural at providing her cubs with the necessary care to help them develop, and this is reflective of the care that she has received from the staff at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.”

The cubs received their first medical exam on November 28. Zoo Animal Health staff were able to quickly and efficiently examine the cubs because of the exceptional bonding and training the keeper staff has established with the mother. Dorcas trusted her keepers and was therefore willing to be separated from the cubs when keepers requested it.

Dr. Yousuf Jafarey gave the cubs’ brief physical examinations and determined they look healthy, are nursing well, and have no congenital health problems. Both cubs weighed 4.5 pounds. Within minutes the cubs were back with their mother in the nesting box, behind-the-scenes in the Tiger viewing building.

The cubs will not be on exhibit for several months. They still require a series of health examinations and vaccinations. They’ll continue to strengthen the bond with their mom, and even require a swim test before the cubs are ready to explore their outdoor habitat in public viewing areas. A live video feed of the nest box can be seen in the Tiger viewing building, on either side of the donor wall.

The birth of two Sumatran Tiger cubs is especially significant because the Zoo’s Tigers are part of a globally-managed species program. Zoological facilities around the world, including Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ work to maintain a healthy population. There are currently less than 400 Sumatran Tigers in the wild.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Tiger Orphans Meet at San Diego Zoo Safari Park


A 9-week-old Sumatran Tiger cub was introduced to a 7-week-old Bengal Tiger cub at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center on September 11.

The Sumatran Tiger cub arrived from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and was introduced to the Bengal Tiger cub, currently residing at the Safari Park.

The Sumatran Tiger cub was born at the National Zoo on July 11 and was rejected by its mother a short time later. After numerous attempts to keep the mother and cub together, the animal care team decided it was in the cub’s best interest to separate them.

The Bengal Tiger cub was confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on August 23 during a vehicle inspection at the U.S./Mexico border. His story attracted worldwide media attention. Back in early September, ZooBorns introduced readers to the little cub and how he became a resident of the Safari Park: “Confiscated Tiger Cub Finds Refuge at San Diego Safari Park


3_21731710_1983111141705552_1410871529957508442_oPhoto Credits: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Both the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the National Zoo are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and in a collaborative effort, both zoos’ animal care teams determined the best solution for the well-being of the two cubs would be for them to become companions.

The cubs took to each other immediately, and interacted by wrestling, jumping and engaging in a lot of friendly roughhousing—things tiger cubs do.

Park staff explained how they are able to differentiate between the two tigers. Although Sumatran Tigers, in general, are the smallest subspecies of tiger, the opposite is currently the case with the two cubs. The Safari Park’s Sumatran cub is currently the larger and darker colored of the pair, however, it won’t be long before his new companion is larger.

Guests at the Safari Park can now see them through the nursery window at the Animal Care Center during Safari Park operating hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.


Confiscated Tiger Cub Finds Refuge at San Diego Safari Park


A tiny male Bengal Tiger cub that was being smuggled into the United States is receiving care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The young Tiger was confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers, who discovered the cub while inspecting a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico on August 23.

36739400281_dff0fdaec8_oPhoto Credit: San Diego Safari Park


Once the cub was safely at the Safari Park, veterinary staff performed a thorough health exam and determined that he was in good health. “His heart and lungs sound good, his blood work looked great and, since he took a bottle from us, it’s a good sign he’ll continue to thrive,” said Dr. Jim Oosterhuis, principal veterinarian.

“I estimate the cub to be between 5 and 6 weeks old, and he weighs in at a little over 6 pounds,” Dr. Oosterhuis said. “He has teeth coming in, so he’ll be teething in the next week or two—so, animal care staff will have a little chore getting him through that.”

The cub is being cared for in the Safari Park’s nursery, and once his location became known, hundreds of eager fans gathered outside the nursery window hoping to see the tiny Tiger. He is now viewable most of the day, except when he is taking a ‘catnap,’ according to his keepers. The cub receives a bottle six times a day with a special formula made for exotic carnivores and is thriving under the watchful eyes of his care team. He is steadily gaining weight and now weighs more than seven pounds. His teeth are coming in and he’s chewing on everything in sight—stuffed toys, blankets, even his paws.

Guests watching the cub through the nursery window might see keepers using a wet cotton ball to give the cub a bath. This procedure mimics how wild mother Tigers bathe their cubs after feedings.

See more photos of the Tiger cub below.

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‘Boy!’… This Sumatran Tiger Cub Is Adorable


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.”



4_16_sumatran_tiger_cub_dell_guglielmo_clip0027.00_01_05_22.still002Photo 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.

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Zoo Provides Foster Mom for Amur Tiger Cub

1_3 Sumatran cubs with Amur tiger cub Zoya on scale_ Zoya 2nd from Left 7.21.17 photo by Gretchen Cole

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.

2_Zoya examined at OKC Zoo

3_Zoya bottle fed for last time by Philadelphia Zookeeper 7.21.17

4_Philadelphia Zoo Tiger Team feeding Amur cub Zoya at OKC ZooPhoto 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.

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Debrecen Zoo Welcomes First Amur Tiger Cub


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”.



4_DebrecenAmurCubPhoto 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.

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Tiny Tiger Cub Reunited With Mom at Minnesota Zoo

TigerCub Reunited 3
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.

TigerCub Reunited 1Photo 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.

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