Chester Zoo have shared incredible images of their precious Sumatran tiger cubs born in January taking their first tips out in to their enclosure. Until now the cubs have remained tucked away in an off-display den where they could bond with mother, Kasarna.
As they emerged from their den carnivore keepers have revealed that the cubs are two females which have been named Alif, a popular name in Indonesia, and Raya after Mount Raya in Sumatra.
Dayna Thain, Carnivore Keeper at Chester Zoo, said, “These majestic animals are hanging on to survival by a thread in Sumatra. They’re one of the world’s rarest tiger subspecies and so to see these two cubs thriving here is absolutely wonderful. It’s a real joy to get a glimpse of the cubs exploring and enjoying some playful rough and tumble together.
“The cubs are still a little shy and pop in and out of the den with mum Kasarna, but it’s going to be a real privilege to watch as they grow in confidence and their feisty personalities really start to show through. Recently, we discovered them both to be female and have named them Alif and Raya.
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered with just 350 estimated to remain on the island of Sumatra. Hunting pressures and conflicts with humans have seen the species numbers continue to fall. The world’s authority on the state of the nature, The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list the species as critically endangered. Over 90% of their habitat has been lost to humans.
“Crucially, with so few Sumatran tigers left on the planet, Kasarna’s girls are vitally important additions to the conservation breeding programme which is working tirelessly to prevent the species from becoming extinct.” said Dayna.
Image: © Chester Zoo
Most authorities recognize nine subspecies of tiger but a 2017 study suggests that their may be just two. The Sumatran tiger would be grouped with the current Bali tiger subspecies to form one new species while the other seven would be joined to make the second species. At present this model has not gained widespread acceptance and is still being debated.
Image: © Chester Zoo
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