Three Amur Tiger cubs, born July 7, are currently on display at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. The cubs (two males and one female) went on exhibit with their mother, Isabella, who is a first-time mom.
The curious trio is eager to investigate everything, including what mom is eating. They are still nursing exclusively, but will begin to eat meat around three months old.
Their father, Sasha, is also on display in the Zoo’s Cat Complex, but he is currently living in a separate exhibit.
The Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Siberian Tiger, is a subspecies inhabiting mainly the Sikhote Alin mountain region, with a small population in southwest Primorye Province in the Russian Far East.
The Amur Tiger once ranged throughout all of Korea, northeastern China, Russian Far East, and Eastern Mongolia. In 2005, there were reported to be 331–393 adults and sub adult Amur Tigers in this region, with a breeding adult population of about 250 individuals.
The Amur Tiger and Bengal Tiger subspecies rank among the biggest living cats. An average adult male Siberian Tiger outweighs an average adult male Lion by around 45.5 kg (100 lb.).
The Amur Tiger is reddish-rusty, or rusty-yellow in color, with narrow black transverse stripes. It is typically 5–10 cm (2–4 in) taller than the Bengal Tiger, which is about 107–110 cm (42–43 in) tall.
Amur Tigers mate at any time of the year. Gestation lasts from 3 to 3½ months. Litter size is normally two or four cubs but there can be as many as six. The cubs are born blind, in a sheltered den, and are left alone when the female leaves to hunt for food. The female cubs remain with their mothers longer, and later, they establish territories close to their original ranges. Male cubs, on the other hand, travel unaccompanied and range farther, earlier in their lives, making them more vulnerable to poachers and other tigers.
At 35 months of age, Tigers are sub-adults. Males reach sexual maturity at the age of 48 to 60 months.
The Amur Tiger is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. According to the IUCN’s report: “…despite a bounce back in tiger numbers in 2010 after a very cold and snowy winter in 2009 (Miquelle et al. 2010). Poaching of Tigers as well as their wild prey species is considered to be driving the decline (Schwirtz 2009). Moreover, a broad genetic sampling of 95 wild Russian tigers found markedly low genetic diversity, with the effective population size (Ne) extraordinarily low in comparison to the census population size (N), with the population behaving as if it were just 27–35 individuals (Henry et al. 2009). This reflects the recent population bottleneck of the 1940s, and concords with the low documented cub survivorship to independence in the Russian Far East (Kerley et al. 2003). Further exacerbating the problem is that more than 90% of the population occurs in the Sikhote Alin mountain region, and there is little genetic exchange (movement of Tigers) across the development corridor, which separates this sub-population from the much smaller subpopulation found in southwest Primorye province (Henry et al. 2009).
In China, the small population is not independently viable and dependent on movement of animals across the border with Russia.”
More amazing pics, below the fold!