Photo: PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images
The Memphis Zoo welcomed two endangered Sumatran tiger cubs earlier this month, the first born at the zoo in more than two decades.
The zoo said that “Dari”, a 7-year-old Sumatran tigress, gave birth to the cubs on May 5 with the father, a 4-year-old tiger named “Gusti”, as the zoo announced on its website.
“After practicing for several weeks to perfect the technique, we were elated to finally confirm a viable fetus on the left side,” Felicia Knightly, Memphis Zoo senior veterinarian, said in the statement.
“Shortly after, we confirmed a second fetus on the right side,” he added.
Sumatran tigers were last born at the zoo in 1998 and the mother of those puppies is Dari’s grandmother.
The number of tiger species on the planet has dropped from nine to six and the zoo said Sumatran tigers are “one of the rare species” being managed globally in zoos and related facilities.
“As the last of the island’s tigers, the preservation of Sumatran tigers is vitally important,” said Dan Dembiec, West Zone Curator.
“Sumatra tigers are managed collaboratively in globally accredited zoo breeding programs. Therefore, the birth of the tiger cubs here at the Memphis Zoo is a milestone with a global impact,” adds Dembiec.
The zoo mentions that mating tigers in captivity is always a two-step process, first making them comfortable in their new surroundings before introducing them to each other in the hope that love will prevail.
“We had to introduce them, which can be inherently risky as you never know how tigers will react to each other, and we were lucky Gusti and Dari hit it off. With two first-time couples, it took almost a year for them to figure out what to do, but they clearly figured it out,” Knightly added.
Zookeepers will keep a close eye on the cubs before they receive vaccinations at six weeks of age. and shown their outdoor habitat at three months.
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