Cleveland Metroparks Zoo yesterday announced the arrival of a two-month-old Malayan tiger cub from the Tulsa Zoo. The female Malayan tiger cub, named Indrah, has joined Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s two Amur tiger cubs that were born in late December to form a social group of two endangered subspecies of tigers.
“Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Tulsa Zoo both recently celebrated the incredible births of endangered tiger cubs,” said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Dr. Chris Kuhar. “Socialization of tigers at an early age is incredibly important and raising these cubs as part of a unique social group will allow them to develop skills and behaviors together.”
Photos courtesy of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The move was spearheaded through the partnerships of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Tulsa Zoo and coordinated through the Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program. The Tiger SSP administrates the highest standards of care and welfare for tigers by working collaboratively across the over 230 accredited zoos of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Additionally, SSP programs represent their species regionally and internationally through husbandry, conservation efforts and scientific opportunities.
Despite having exceptional caregivers and facilities, both the mother Amur tiger at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the mother Malayan tiger at Tulsa Zoo did not demonstrate maternal bonding to support their offspring. After intensive monitoring, the health and survival of all three cubs was determined to be at risk. While they differ as a subspecies, raising the Malayan cub with the two Amur tiger cubs allows for essential behavioral and social welfare.
“The decision to hand-rear cubs, and to transfer a cub, is never taken lightly. In this case it was clear the move was the best decision to ensure our cub would have an opportunity to benefit from being part of a social group. The transition also allows our zoo to continue to focus on our SSP breeding recommendation for our Malayan tigers in 2021, to ensure their sustainable populations in AZA-accredited facilities,” says Tulsa Zoo Vice-President of Animal Conservation & Science Joe Barkowski.
Adult Amur tigers are the largest tigers among the different subspecies and are also the most cold tolerant as their native range includes the far eastern side of Russia and northeastern China. Malayan tigers are a smaller subspecies of tigers found natively on the Malaysian peninsula and the southern tip of Thailand.
The cubs are currently being hand-reared together by a special team of Animal Care experts behind-the-scenes at the Zoo’s Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine. Once they are a few months old, having gained adequate strength and fitness, they will make their home together at the Zoo’s Rosebrough Tiger Passage.
In the coming weeks, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will share behind-the-scenes updates of the three cubs and their development on social media. Guests can currently help name the two Amur cubs in a donation effort to help combat illegal wildlife trade by visiting FutureForWildlife.org/tigernaming.
Amur tigers are an endangered species and Malayan tigers have been deemed critically-endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Both Amur and Malayan tiger species are estimated to have only a few hundred animals remaining in their native regions. Visitors to Rosebrough Tiger Passage at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo can learn about the threats both tiger species face including habitat loss and poaching.