The Baton Rouge Zoo has welcomed their first Malayan Tiger cubs in 25 years.
These young cubs represent a hope for the future as their species currently only numbers 500 in the wild. The international union for conservation of nature lists this species as endangered.
Zoo director, Phil frost said “We couldn’t be more excited to welcome these cubs.”
The zoo has worked towards this for years he explained, “This is something that’s been in the works since we first designed the Realm of the Tiger exhibit. During that process, we took into deep consideration the number of dens we would need, the subspecies of tigers that would be living there and their recommendations for breeding within the Species Survival Plan.”
The species survival plain is a co-operative breeding program. This saw a female tiger move from Fort Worth to Baton Rouge in 2009. It then sent a male in 2012 from the Little Rock Zoo. This match was obviously correct as the pair went on to produce this pair of cubs.
The assistant director and curator of the zoo, Sam Winslow said, “Among big cats, first-time mothers can commonly be incompetent in caring for their young which can sometimes result in none of the cubs surviving.” He went on to explain the success they had though, “Therefore we were very pleased that two of the four cubs have survived. As with any animal birth, we’re optimistic and excited, but know that the first couple of weeks are a very delicate time in the survival of the cubs. The mother is very protective of the cubs and any interference could jeopardize them.”
The cubs will not make their first appearance until they are 12 weeks old. As such the zoo has created a ‘tiger cam’. This can be viewed at the exhibit as well on-line at www.brzoo.org/tigercam.
The smallest of the tiger subspecies the Malayan tiger has been hunted as well as that their habitat is being destroyed.
Frost said, ‘The Baton Rouge Zoo is an active participant in tiger conservation, and the birth of these cubs is just one piece of what we do.” She explained their participation in the SSP “The responsible breeding of Malayan tigers in accordance with the SSP provides a genetically diverse tiger population to serve as somewhat of a ‘genetic insurance policy’ for their wild counterparts.”
The zoo also works on projects to help mitigate human-tiger conflict, conserve their habitat, as well as researching their populations and ecology.
Photo Credit: Baton Rouge Zoo