Three Sumatran Tiger cubs have been born at Taronga Zoo, providing a valuable boost to this critically endangered species with as few as 400 left in the wild.
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.
Initially, the cubs will spend a very short time on display with their mother, as the youngsters tire easily, but as they get older, they’ll spend more time out and about in their exhibit.
Taronga Director and Chief Executive, Cameron Kerr, said: “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.”
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.”
“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.”
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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