Woburn Safari Park

Two Tiny Tigers Welcomed at Woburn Safari Park

1_Amur Tiger Cub at Woburn Safari Park

Two critically endangered Amur Tiger cubs, born to four-year-old tigress Minerva, have been welcomed at Woburn Safari Park, in Bedfordshire, UK.

These tiny tigers, born September 17th, are amongst the largest and rarest cats in the world. The new cubs signify an important achievement not just for the Park, but also for the international breeding programme of this threatened species. 


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4_IMG_1518Photo Credits: Woburn Safari Park

The as-yet unsexed cubs are the first to be born at Woburn Safari Park in 23 years, arriving in the bespoke Tiger House and weighing in at a healthy 800-1200 grams (1.8 to 2.6 lbs.). First time mum Minerva is understandably protective of her new babies and the Park is delighted that she has taken to motherhood brilliantly, remaining settled and calm.

The proud new mum and her two cubs are all together in a special private den, away from the public, with as little disturbance and noise as possible. The cubs will start to explore the 9-acre tiger reserve in early 2016, until then they will continue to be under the constant watchful eye of mum.

Genetically, Minerva is ranked as the 7th most important female in the captive tiger population across Europe; with the cubs’ dad, Elton, the two are a very important genetic match that has been coordinated by the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). 

There are 326 Amur Tigers (also referred to as the Siberian tiger) in captivity across Europe and Russia, and only approximately 520 in the wild – a slight increase in wild numbers in the last 10 years.

Jo Cook, Co-ordinator at Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance and also species co-ordinator for the European breeding programme (Europe & Russia) commented, “This is the first litter for Minerva and Elton and so far she’s doing a great job as a new mum, although there is still a lot for her to learn. These cubs will make an important contribution to the European breeding programme for Amur Tigers, as Minerva in particular is genetically very important and doesn't have many relatives in the population.”

“Maintaining a healthy captive population of Amur Tigers in zoos and parks is important because they act as an insurance population and can be used for reintroductions should that become a necessary conservation action to support wild Amur Tigers. The tigers in captivity also help raise awareness and inspire visitors to do what they can to support these projects that are protecting these amazing animals in the Russian Far East and northeast China. Not only is Woburn Safari Park playing a role in the Amur Tiger breeding programme, but it is also raising funds for the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance which supports conservation activities such as anti-poaching and population monitoring in Russia and China.”

Woburn Safari Park is home to five Amur Tigers: two females – Minerva and Neurka, one male - Elton, and the two new cubs. Their home in ‘Kingdom of the Carnivores’ is a specially designed nine-acre enclosure complete with sleeping platforms and bathing pools, as they are the only big cats that like water.

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Three Little Lemurs at Woburn Safari Park

Koko 1Two Ring-tailed Lemurs at the United Kingdom’s Woburn Safari Park gave birth to three babies in March!

Both Koko, who delivered a single baby, and Krinidy, who gave birth to twins, are first-time mothers.  All three babies are fathered by male Lemur Berenti.  Until the babies are about two months old, they’ll cling tightly to their mothers.  They’ll then begin climbing and leaping with abandon, as all little Lemurs do.  At that time, keepers will observe the babies and determine their genders.

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Kirindy (poking baby in eye!)
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BothPhoto Credit: Woburn Safari Park

The Ring-tailed Lemurs live in a walk-through enclosure at Woburn Safari Park, so visitors should be able to get close-up views of the babies.  The Lemurs often sun themselves on the paths, spreading their arms and legs to soak up the warmth on cool mornings.

Ring-tailed Lemurs are primates, native only to the island of Madagascar.  Due to habitat loss, these and other Lemurs are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Ring-tailed Lemurs inhabit forests and scrublands, where they travel in large groups of up to 30 individuals.  They are one of the most vocal of all primates, emitting clicks, moans, and wails.  They purr when content.

A Baby Boom of Somali Wild Ass Foals at Woburn Safari Park

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For the first time ever at Woburn Safari Park in England, not just one, but three critically endangered Somali Wild Ass foals have been born. Their keepers are extremely pleased to see these healthy and lively foals join the animals in the Road Safari drive-through reserves.

Five year-old Ira is mother to the first foal, shown in the photos. She came to Woburn from a collection in Switzerland. She is extremely protective of the male foal, and is keeping the other two mares in the herd away from the youngster. Once she and her foal have bonded, she will let the other mares interact with him, but under her watchful gaze. 

The baby boom continued as a second male foal was born on September 28 and a third arrived on October 4. The babies will all be named by keepers in the next few days.

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2 foal

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Photo Credits: Daniel Davies / Woburn Safari Park 

The sire of all three foals is named Simon, who is 18 years old and came to Woburn Safari Park from Poland in early 2012.  Since the gestation period for the Somali Wild Ass is 13 months, the foals were conceived very soon after his arrival. He is a really relaxed and calm stallion who enjoys a little fuss from the keepers.

The Somali Wild Ass is Critically Endangered, with  estimates at only 280-300 left in the wild. Breeding plans are overseen by the European Endangered Species Programme to carefully plan for the conservation and future of these beautiful animals. There are only two other zoo collections in the UK holding a breeding herd of Somali Wild Ass, which makes the arrival of these youngsters particularly important.