Two rare Malayan Tiger cubs, born at WCS’s Bronx Zoo, are making their public debut.
The female cubs, Nadia and Azul, were born in January. This is the third litter of Malayan Tigers born at the Bronx Zoo.
In the days following the birth, their mother was not providing suitable maternal care, so Bronx Zoo keepers intervened and hand-raised the cubs until they were fully weaned.
“The majority of animals born at the Bronx Zoo are raised by their parents,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Director of the Bronx Zoo. “But in certain cases, the moms need help raising offspring. Our keepers did a wonderful job raising the Malayan Tiger cubs through the critical first few months of their lives. As the cubs mature, they are learning ‘how to be tigers’ and following their instincts and developing the skills and behavior of adult tigers. The transition process form cub to young adult is amazing to witness.”
Initially, the cubs required 24-hour care and were bottle-fed a milk formula every three hours. Food intake was carefully recorded, and the cubs were weighed daily to ensure they gained an appropriate amount of weight.
The cubs were fully weaned by 40 days of age, at which time they began to be slowly introduced to sights, sounds, and smells of adult tigers.
After being allowed to properly acclimate to the off-exhibit holding areas at the Tiger Mountain exhibit, the cubs began exploring the expansive outdoor exhibit space.
Initially, the cubs will be on exhibit at Tiger Mountain for a few hours each day. That time will gradually increase as they continue to become more comfortable in their habitat. Exhibit times may vary.
Jim Breheny continued, “These two cubs are ambassadors for their species. With an estimated 250 Malayan Tigers remaining in the wild and fewer than 70 in accredited North American zoos, these cubs give us an excellent opportunity to introduce our visitors to the treats Malayan Tigers face in the wild and what the Bronx Zoo and WCS is doing to help guarantee the survival of the species.”
The Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) is a subspecies that is native to the southern and central parts of the Malay Peninsula. It has been classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, since 2015, as the population was roughly estimated at 250 to 340 adult individuals in 2013, with a declining trend. Their main threats are: poaching, prey depletion, and habitat loss.
Like all tiger subspecies, Malayan Tigers are solitary and only come together for breeding. Malayan Tigers are smaller than the Amur Tiger. Adult Malayan Tigers weigh 250-300 lbs.
The Bronx Zoo is breeding Malayan Tigers and Amur Tigers as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
In the field, WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) has a long history working to save tigers. WCS conservationists have been conducting ecological studies on tigers since the 1960s and have worked with local peoples and governments to establish protected areas, increase enforcement against poaching, and develop public education programs. Today, WCS researchers continue their work across Asia safeguarding tigers throughout their range.