Tiger Cubs Debut at Sydney Zoo [Video]

NEW YORK | Saturday, October 29th, 2011 11:43pm EDT

Three Sumatran Tiger cubs have been born at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, providing a valuable boost to this critically endangered species with as few as 400 left in the wild.

What’s cuter than a baby animal? Yes, three baby animals. The video above, from the Associated Press, shows young tiger cubs making their public debut at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia.

The two male cubs and one female were born in the early hours of Saturday, August 27, one hour apart, to mother ‘Jumilah’ and father, ‘Satu’, as zoo keepers monitored the labour from nearby.

“I’m just so excited that finally people get to see the cubs,” zoo keeper Justine Powell said. “It’s been a big ask to have to keep it a secret for the past eight weeks.”

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A Sumatran tiger triplet, born at Taronga Zoo. Photo: Taronga Zoo

Ms Powell also said the cubs – known at the moment as numbers One, Two and Three – already have distinct personalities. “Number One has been nicknamed SJ, Satu Junior, because he is a lot like his dad.”

“Number Two is the girl, she’s very cheeky and confident and likes to hassle her brothers. Number Three is more laid back and I think he will be more placid than the other two,” he added.

Cameron Kerr, the zoo’s director and chief executive, said in a press release, “In a world where just 7% of original tiger habitat remains, this triple birth is a great achievement by Taronga’s dedicated keepers. When you think that these cubs represent nearly 1% of the wild Sumatran Tiger population, you realise just how precarious the future is for these iconic creatures.”

“Hope for the future of this and other species is inextricably linked with the ability of Taronga and zoos like it to maintain a health and viable insurance population so humanity is not deprived of the joy and inspiration of such creatures in the future,” he added.

Carnivore Supervisor, Louise Ginman, said: “The whole Zoo is ecstatic at the birth of three healthy little tigers, especially all the carnivore keepers. Satu was brought toTaronga from Germany as part of the international zoo breeding program for Sumatran Tigers to mate with our Taronga-born female Jumilah and introduce new genetics to our region.”

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A Sumatran tiger triplet, born at Taronga Zoo. Photo: Taronga Zoo

He continued: “The female cub is really cheeky, with a lot of attitude and is the first one to check out new things. The boys are more cautious, but they’re growing in confidence and body size each day, now tipping the scales over six kilograms each. I was here when Jumilah their mother was born, so to see her rear her own cubs and be such a great mother really is a highlight of my career.”

“There are only about 400 Sumatran Tigers left in the wild, so to see them here at Taronga and know that they are part of a safety-net in case wild populations go extinct is pretty remarkable. I would just ask our visitors to be patient, because like all youngsters the cubs tire quickly, and like most cats, they love to sleep,” he added.

Taronga Zoo is committed to Tiger conservation, with over 30 Sumatran Tigers bred at the Zoo since 1979. There are now more tigers in world zoos than in the wild, so zoo breeding programs are vital. Three species, the Caspian, Balinese and Javanese, are already extinct. Soon zoos may be the only places future generations will be able to see and learn about Tigers,” said Louise.

Sumatran Tigers have suffered greatly from habitat loss due to palm oil plantations destroying their forests; their body parts are still used extensively in traditional medicines and they are still hunted for their pelts. Tragically in 2009, a female tiger was killed and skinned in an exhibit at Rimbo Zoo in Indonesia due to the hefty price it would fetch on the black market.

Taronga is financially supporting wildlife protection units in Sumatra, helping to create a network of community rangers to decrease illegal logging, hunting and vigilante actions against wildlife. For more info: www.taronga.org.au

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