Four endangered Amur Tiger cubs, born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo on June 23, were recently seen being taken for a first look at the world by mother, Naya.
The as-yet unsexed cubs were born to their seven year-old mum after 108 days of pregnancy and only 121 days (four months) after Naya “met” the dad, Botzman.
Keepers at the UK’s largest Zoo had been anxiously monitoring second-time mum, Naya, using remote camera technology as she gave birth to the first tiger cub at 7.25pm on June 23, and they were then elated to see her give birth to three further cubs over the subsequent five hours.
Team leader, Donovan Glyn, said, “It’s incredible news for us to have endangered Amur Tiger cubs born here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, but to have four of them is just amazing, especially when you consider there are only 500 left in the wild.”
Naya and her cubs have been getting to know each other in a birthing den in the middle of the Zoo’s large tiger enclosure, with mum only venturing away from her babies occasionally to have a drink.
Donovan Glyn continued, “Having cameras in her den is allowing us to keep a close eye on how they’re all getting on 24/7, and it’s also letting us share in the magic of them taking their first steps.”
“Naya is very attentive, cleaning the cubs regularly and letting them suckle whenever they want to. She has also stayed very calm and relaxed throughout, even when dad Botzman went in to see what was going on. He seemed to take one look at the first cub and decide to give them some space!”
Mum Naya and dad Botzman have been getting on extremely well since Naya arrived at the Zoo in February, and the cubs are a success for the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent to breed the endangered species.
Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Thanks to the conservation efforts of organizations like ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which works with Amur Tigers in the Russian Far East, there are now an estimated 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, ten times the number that were estimated to exist in the 1940s.
Zookeepers will also be revealing exclusive footage of the cubs on ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s social media channels over the next few months. Check their website for more info: www.zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo