The Milwaukee County Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of three Amur Tigers. The cubs were born September 14 to mother, Amba, and father, Strannik, both 13-years-old.
This is the second litter for Amba, who is considered an older mother, and the fourth litter for Strannik.
As of October 2, the weights for the cubs were 5.6 pounds, 5.9 pounds and 6.9 pounds. The cubs are weighed every two to three days to monitor weight. Zookeepers report all three cubs are healthy and growing quickly. The last litter of Tiger cubs born at the Zoo was in 2009 (female Tula from that litter remains at the Zoo).
The cubs have a nest of wood-wool in an off-exhibit den, and are nursing from mom approximately 6–8 times per day. Their immune systems are developing and they’re learning to get their legs under them, in order to begin walking. They are expected to start walking at about 3 weeks old. Their eyes are now open but not yet focusing.
The trio of cubs is regularly monitored “in-person” as well as via video monitor. A trusting relationship between the keepers and mom, Amba, has been formed over the years, through positive reinforcement training. On a regular basis, zookeepers offer training for all of the residents of the Zoo’s Big Cat building (for medical, emotional or physical needs of the animals). This training also allowed keepers and veterinary staff to perform ultrasounds on Amba to confirm her pregnancy in the weeks prior to her giving birth.
Because Amba and the cubs won’t be on public exhibit for several weeks, the Milwaukee County Zoo invites fans to view its Facebook page for updates, photos and videos: http://www.facebook.com/MilwaukeeCountyZoo
A public announcement and media invite will follow when the cubs are ready to make their public debut!
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.”
For more information on current conservation projects addressing threats to the Amur Tiger’s survival, visit the Tiger Conservation Campaign’s website: www.mnzoo.org/tigercampaign
*The Milwaukee County Zoo is a proud participant of the Prusten Project, an innovative project that monitors Tiger vocalizations, resulting in a more efficient and less disruptive census of critical populations of wild Tigers.
A first-of-its-kind undertaking, the Prusten Project is monitoring areas of populations where dense jungle prohibits visual confirmation, thus making way for saving these core area habitats. For more information on the Prusten Project, please visit http://www.theprustenproject.org/