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Tiny Tiger Cub Reunited With Mom at Minnesota Zoo

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A newborn endangered Amur Tiger cub has been reunited with her mother thanks to the work of keepers at the Minnesota Zoo.

The female cub was born on April 26 and removed for hand-raising when Sundari, a first-time mom, wasn’t showing the necessary level of care for her baby. Although the tiny cub needed immediate feeding by zoo staff, they did not give up on their goal of keeping mom and baby together. Sundari just needed a little encouragement.

TigerCub Reunited 1Photo Credit: Minnesota Zoo

Keepers repeatedly showed the cub to Sundari through a protective barrier over several days.  When Sundari showed no signs of aggression toward her cub, keepers successfully reunited the pair.

So far, mom and cub appear to be bonding, and the staff closely monitors the cub to make sure she is getting enough milk.  Keepers still provide supplemental feedings to ensure the baby’s health.

Mom and baby will remain behind the scenes while the keeper staff monitors their health. The zoo has set up a special webpage that will soon include a live web cam to view the new Tiger cub.

This is the first offspring for mother, Sundari, who was born at the Minnesota Zoo in June of 2012. Father, 7-year-old Putin has sired two other litters in Denmark, where he lived before coming to the Minnesota Zoo in 2015. Putin was brought to the Minnesota Zoo as a recommendation of the Amur Tiger Global Species Management Plan, which is co-coordinated by Minnesota Zoo staff. He is the most genetically valuable Amur Tiger in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Tiger Species Survival Plan® (SSP), underscoring the zoo’s groundbreaking efforts to reunite this cub with her mother. Coordinated by Minnesota Zoo staff for more than three decades, the Tiger SSP recommended Sundari and Putin as a breeding pair.

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The largest of all cats, Amur Tigers are a top predator in their native far eastern Asia. Thick fur protects against the extreme cold and icy winds of winter, while stripes help render the Cats invisible to prey. Amur Tigers are carnivores, eating mostly large mammals such as Deer and Wild Boar.  They travel extensive forest territories in search of food.  With stealth, speed, and sheer strength, Amur Tigers superior hunters.

Poaching of Tigers and their prey is the primary threat to Amur Tigers’ survival. Thanks to conservation efforts, Amur Tiger numbers have increased from as low as 20-30 in the 1940s to approximately 500 today. Through the Tiger SSP’s Tiger Conservation Campaign, the Minnesota Zoo supports efforts to improve anti-poaching patrols in the Russian Far East and to close old logging roads to prevent poacher access.

The Minnesota Zoo is also one of 15 coalition members that comprise the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance. Members pool their resources to support conservation efforts for wild Amur Tigers and Leopards.  Funds contributed by the Minnesota Zoo have helped monitor wild populations of these highly-endangered Cats in the Russian Far East.