Kaitlyn, a six year-old Sumatran Tiger, safely delivered two healthy cubs on August 22—the first tiger cubs to be born at Australia Zoo in it 43-year history! After going into labour at 11:00 am, she delivered the first cub at 5:07 pm and the second at 5:39 pm. Both Kaitlyn and her new arrivals are healthy and doing well, according to Australia Zoo Head Tiger Supervisor Giles Clark.
"We're so pleased with how well the birth went. Kaitlyn is a fantastic first time mum," Giles says. "The cubs will spend the next few weeks bonding with mum. This will also ensure the cubs gets the colostrum and a head start while they are so small." Visitors to Australia Zoo will have the opportunity to see the cubs in late October, but in the meantime, you can take a peek inside the den with a live tiger cam.
Before long Giles will take over as mum, doing all the duties from feeding to cleaning.
"At this time the strong bonds are formed between handlers and cubs to allow us to interact with the tigers for their entire life and provide the long term enrichment of walks and experiences outside of their enclosures," Giles explains.
Kaitlyn, who arrived at the zoo in 2008 along with two of her siblings, is considered one of the most genetically valuable individuals in the world, as she was born to a mother who was wild-born and a captive father. With fewer than 500 Sumatran Tigers left in the wild, the birth of her cubs is a significant win for the future of the species.
"Not only will these cubs ensure the survival of the species in captivity, but they will also provide genetic diversity among captive tiger populations. The cubs' wild bloodline is an important factor. These cubs are possibly the most significant births for the program in recent history," says Giles.
The new cubs will also play an important role acting as ambassadors for their wild cousins.
"Tigers are listed as critically endangered, but it takes just $5 to save a tiger in the wild for one day. Over the past decade, visitors to the Zoo have helped raise $1.3 million to support our tiger conservation projects around the world."