Whoever coined the phrase “three’s a crowd” definitely hadn’t seen the size of the crowd outside Taronga Zoo’s Sumatran Tiger exhibit. With the number of people jostling for pole position, snapping away madly with their telephoto lenses, you’d think Her Majesty the Queen herself had come to scope out the Big Cats.
But then, if you caught the news on Tuesday then you’d also know that the majority of Big Cats in Taronga Zoo’s Sumatran Tiger exhibit aren’t all that big anymore – well, not since three cute little cubs made their public debut. And that’s why I’m going to take this opportunity to apologise for ruining anyone’s camera shot this morning as I tried, as politely as possible, to negotiate my way through the jungle of snap-happy visitors outside the cubs’ enclosure. But hey, when you catch your first ever glimpse of a baby Sumatran Tiger, I challenge you not to completely stop in your tracks, wipe everything else from your mind and gape goggle-eyed like some kind of crazy cat lady who’s just spotted an incredibly rare – well – baby Sumatran Tiger.
I’m not sure if it was Cub 1, Cub 2, or Cub 3 (as they’re currently being referred to until the results of a forthcoming naming competition are unveiled) that I was watching as I stood there like an inconveniently situated stone monolith, but I’m going to guess it was Cub 2, and here’s why:
Cub 2 is the only female of the trio and according to her keepers, she’s also the most cheeky, adventurous and outgoing. And the Tiger cub that I was watching was flaunting all of these traits - clowning around and pestering mum, Jumilah, with obvious zest.
While her (let’s assume) brothers were snoozing peacefully in the bamboo, Cub 2 was pouncing on tree roots, rustling branches and chewing on her mother’s tail. Although only two months old, it’s amazing how big she looks already, especially those paws! And when she yawns and flashes a tiny set of jaws, you get the feeling that, given a few months, this cute, inquisitive little stripy fur-ball is going to grow into a majestic and powerful Sumatran Tiger, just like her mum.
In the meantime, the arrival of these three little bundles of joy couldn’t have come at a better time, as the debate about Palm Oil labelling is very much on the national radar. Sumatran Tigers have suffered greatly from habitat loss due to forest destruction to set up palm oil plantations, and a Bill for mandatory labelling of palm oil is in Parliament as we speak. If you’d like to help out Sumatran Tigers, you can sign Taronga Zoo’s palm oil-labelling petition here. But there probably isn’t a better way to understand the vital importance of this issue than by coming to the zoo and witnessing these absolutely breathtaking and critically endangered creatures for yourself. Representing almost 1% of the entire population of Sumatran Tigers that remain in the wild, Taronga’s new litter of cubs represents a valuable boost for the future of their species.
Plus they’re super cute to boot.
Media Intern, Emma