Tiger keepers at Chester Zoo had an incredibly exciting start to 2015 with three Sumatran tiger cubs born in the early hours of January 2nd. Sumatran tigers are the world’s smallest tiger subspecies and only 300-400 remain in the wilds of Asia.
Tim Rowlands, the curator of mammals at Chester Zoo said, “We’re thrilled to kick off 2015 with these special arrivals. These tiny triplets who, in June, will move to a brand new home in our Islands zone, are now part of a safety-net against the population in the wild becoming extinct. That to me is incredibly humbling.”
Luckily Chester Zoo has a wonderful breeding pair of tigers in eight year old Kirana and seven year old Fabi. Their last litter of two cubs named Kasih and Nuri were born last year. They still live at Chester Zoo.
Rowlands added, “Sumatran tigers are one of the rarest big cat species in the world. That’s what makes our new tiger trio so incredibly special – they’re a rare boost to an animal that’s critically endangered.”
“We had Kirana’s due date down as Friday Jan 2 and, true to what we thought, she had her cubs in the early hours of that morning. We were first alerted to them when we heard tiny squeaks coming from their den. Initially we weren’t sure of how many she had had – we just kept seeing flashes of tiny balls of fluff – but we’ve since spotted that there are three.”
Keepers discovering the cub’s sexes is still a ways off and they are keeping a close eye on the family though Rowlands said, “It’s still early days but Kirana is an experienced mum and she’s keeping her cubs very well protected. She’s doing everything we would hope at this stage.”
Chester Zoo’s tigers are part of the European Endangered Species Program which is a collaborative effort between zoos to ensure tigers survive. Sumatran tigers are suffering due to habitat loss and poaching so their body parts can be used in traditional medicines.
In June the tiger cubs will receive a luxurious new pad in the zoo’s island development which is set to show animals in a more natural setting than anything seen before in the UK. The zoo hopes this natural setting will encourage visitors to make an emotional connection with the animals so they will care for the species. This will make them more likely to save these animals.
Video credit: Chester Zoo