Keepers at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio are hand rearing three Amur tiger cubs born early on April 21.
Weighing just 2.5lbs (1.1lg) at birth the cubs needed care from their mother that keepers realised she was failing to give them. As such they were brought to the Animal Health Centre at the zoo where they can be cared for. Currently keepers are unaware of when they will be on public display.
Columbus Zoo President/CEO Tom Stalf said, “We are always cautiously optimistic about the survival of fragile newborns. But the cubs seem to be thriving under the 24-hour care provided by our animal specialists and veterinarians.”
Mother, Irisa has never had cubs before. The Species Survival Plan and her keepers had been hoping for years that she would breed adding her genetics to the population.
Dad, Foli has sired three litters since 2012. He left the zoo just a few weeks after the cubs were conceived to go live at another zoo.
On March 12 a new male tiger known as Jupiter came to Columbus Zoo from Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. He was born at Moscow Zoo in 2007.
All these moves and breeding’s are recommended as part of the Species survival plan which is run by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). It aims to ensure that the population of Amur tigers in human care is sustainable.
Currently the program has 150 tigers living in 50 AZA institutions across America. The studbook manages them to ensure they remain purebred.
Columbus Zoo has experienced great success in breeding Amur tigers with four cubs born at the zoo in 2013 to another female known as Mara. Currently the zoo is home to 10 tigers including the three cubs.
Less than 400 Amur tigers can be found roaming the forests of the Russian Far East. They are the largest of the big cat species. Overhunting of their prey such as deer and wild boar along with habitat loss and poaching has led to a severe decline in Amur tiger numbers. 75-85% of tiger deaths are caused by humans.
Columbus Zoo supports the Tiger Project run by the Wildlife Conservation Society. It monitors tigers and helps to reduce instances of human-tiger conflict.
Photo Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium