Siberian Tiger Cubs at Zurich Zoo
July 26, 2011
Three Siberian Tiger cubs were born on May 15, 2011 at the Zürich Zoo in Switzerland. There's one male named Lailek, and two females named Luva and Liska. Mom Elena was born in 2004 in the Tierpark Hellabrunn, Munich, and has been at the Zürich zoo since March, 2010. The father, Coto, was born in June 2002 at the Zürich Zoo and in fact was the last cub born there before this trio, his offspring.
Also known as Amur Tigers, this species is considered the world's largest cat. They they are mostly found in the birch forests of eastern Russia, though some do live in China and North Korea. According to National Geographic, there were once eight tiger subspecies, but three became extinct during the 20th century.
Over the last hundred years, hunting and forest destruction have reduced overall tiger populations from hundreds of thousands to perhaps 3,000 to 5,000. Tigers are hunted as trophies and also for body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine. All five remaining tiger subspecies are endangered, and many protection programs are in place. Poaching is a reduced—but still very significant—threat to Siberian tigers.