The 27th of August marked the first birthday of Taronga’s three tiger cubs, Kembali, Sakti, and their sister Kartika. The three Sumatran Tigers were born to mother ‘Jumilah’ and father ‘Satu’, which added three precious additions to the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger population.
To celebrate this 12 month milestone, their keepers designed a special set of enrichment activities, which had the cubs looking for tasty treats that were disguised in presents made of colourful cardboard boxes. The playful cubs demonstrated their amazing hunting abilities tearing apart the boxes to get to their food. At the age of one, the tigers are well on their way to adulthood and are becoming increasingly independent, so when it came to enjoying their surprise they weren’t scared to wrestle over their favourite boxes!
Taronga’s Carnivore Keepers say that the cubs have lost their baby teeth and are growing their adult canines, and along with maturity, they have become less dependant on their mother, Jumilah, who Carnivore Supervisor, Louise Ginman describes as: “The most wonderful mother who has reared the cubs to perfection”.
The birth of the three cubs was a long anticipated event, with mother Jumilah, amongst the last litter of Sumatran Tigers born at Taronga Zoo in 2003.. When paired with ‘Satu’, a male tiger from Germany, the pair didn’t immediately hit it off, but after two years of attempted matings, Jumilah successfully gave birth to her three healthy offspring.
The cubs each have very distinct personalities, which makes it easier for our keepers to tell them apart: Sakti is young male who loves his food and is always checking in to see if his mother has any leftover snacks; his brother Kembali is a playful character who is often lying on his back with his feet in the air; and Kartika, the boldest of the three, shows off her curious nature by exploring every inch of the exhibit. The cubs, who have been taught their names from a young age, are a joy for the keepers and importantly represent the future hope of their species. It is estimated that only 300 - 400 Sumatran Tigers are left in the wild, as the species continues to be affected by poaching and habitat destruction in Indonesian forests for unsustainable palm oil plantations. The success of the breeding program has meant that an increasing number of people have learnt about the Sumatran Tiger species and are more aware about the threats that the species faces.
Over the last 12 months, the keepers have been very excited by the number of people they’ve been able to talk to about Sumatran Tiger protection. They even made a video which plays at the tiger exhibit so visitors can find out how they can help... and it’s as simple as being aware what’s in your shopping trolley! Many products, from confectionary to body lotions sold in Australia contain palm oil, which is having a deadly affect on tigers.
With such an important 12 month milestone reached, we have high hopes that Kembali, Sakti and Kartika will, in the future have offspring of their own, and further boost the Sumatran Tiger population across the world.
If you’d like to see the tigers at Taronga, come along to our keeper talk at 2:15pm every day, and watch these tigers enjoy their meal while you learn more about them, from the people that know them best, their keepers!