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1_Tiger3LR - Credit Janel Jankowski

In the early morning hours of November 19, less than a week before Thanksgiving, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) welcomed the arrival of a single, critically endangered Sumatran Tiger cub.

”This rare cub’s birth is so exciting for the zoo and our community. We can’t wait to see the youngster grow, develop and explore the special features we designed into our newest Land of the Tiger habitat, especially the unique trail system,” said Dan Maloney, Deputy Director of Animal Care and Conservation.

2_Tiger1LR - Credit Janel Jankowski

3_Tiger2LR - Credit Janel JankowskiPhoto Credit: Janel Jankowski

The cub, whose gender is unknown at this time, is the first tiger born at JZG in 35 years, and the fifth Sumatran Tiger born in the U.S. this year. First-time mother Dorcas is 4-years-old and came to JZG from the Oklahoma City Zoo. Berani, the 14-year-old father, is also a first-time parent who came to JZG from the Akron Zoo.

Berani was labeled a ‘behavioral non-breeder’ because he couldn’t quite get the correct ‘technique’ when it came to mating. However, when placed with Dorcas, Berani earned his stripes and successfully fathered their first cub.

To ensure appropriate mother-cub bonding, the newborn will remain with Dorcas in an isolated area with little contact from staff for the next several weeks. Tigers are solitary animals, and since males do not play a role in raising offspring, Berani will remain at a distance as he would in the wild.

In a wonderful twist to the "tail", Dorcas’ sister from the same litter, Leeloo, gave birth to her first cub just five days earlier at Zoo Miami. Coincidentally, the sire’s name is also Berani (no relation to the Berani at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens). ZooBorns shared news of the cub at Zoo Miami in our article from November 28, 2015.

The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the smallest of the six subspecies in existence today. They are only found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Originally, nine tiger subspecies were found in parts of Asia, but three subspecies have become extinct in the 20th century. Less than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain in the wild.

"Protecting tigers involves protecting the animals they prey upon,” said John Lukas, Conservation and Science Manager at JZG. “Illegal hunting and snaring removes natural tiger food from the forest and forces tigers to kill domestic livestock to survive.”

To combat extinction of those tigers in the wild, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports a Wildlife Protection Unit on the island of Sumatra. The unit patrols the national forest, removing traps and snares that harm Sumatran Tigers and their prey, and they also keep poachers out of the reserve.