The Milwaukee County Zoo’s three Amur Tiger cubs made their public debut on December 2 in the Zoo’s Florence Mila Borchert Big Cat Country. The cubs, one male and two females, have been named: Kashtan, Eloise and Bernadette.
The cubs were born September 14 to mother, Amba, and father, Strannik. ZooBorns introduced the trio in an article from October: “Tiny Trio of Endangered Tigers Born in Milwaukee”.
While all three cubs are currently doing well, the male, Kashtan, was transferred to the Zoo’s Animal Health Center in October. Little Kashtan was not gaining weight steadily, and he had developed an abscess on one of his legs (possibly due to a lack of immunity). Vet staff cultured and flushed the abscess, and he was given a course of antibiotics. He returned to Big Cat Country on October 24.
When it becomes necessary to remove newborn Zoo animals from the family group, the mother may not always accept the animal when placed back into the group. Staff reports that Amba has consistently shown excellent maternal care with all of her offspring. But because Kashtan had an infection, and there can be many unknowns in reuniting him with mom after so much time passed, staff determined there were too many risks to putting them back together. Female Tigers also have the potential to injure offspring if reintroductions are attempted. The primary concern of the Zoo’s animal care staff is to avoid any risk of injury to the cub.
Kashtan is now being hand-raised by keepers; weaned from a bottle, and eating meat. He is regularly placed with his sisters, in one of the indoor exhibits, for socialization and exercise.
Zoo visitors can see Kashton, singularly, in one of the indoor exhibits in Big Cat Country. At times, zookeepers will be in the exhibit with Kashtan, offering him interaction, socialization and feedings, as part of the hand-raising process. The exhibit will also feature enrichment items (objects that allow him to show his natural behaviors), which are important for his neurocognitive and physical development.
As all three Tigers learn how to become adults, they need to interact with a variety of toys/enrichment items. Anyone interested in purchasing any of these items for the cubs can visit the Zoo’s Amazon Wish List: Tiger Cub Wish List
When the Tiger sisters, Eloise and Bernadette, are not on exhibit with Kashtan, they can be seen with mother, Amba, in the indoor Tiger 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 is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.