Zookeepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have managed to capture on film the birth of four endangered Amur tiger cubs, born last Saturday 23rd June.
The amazing footage was made possible using remote camera technology which keepers used to monitor second-time mum Naya. The seven year-old Amur tigress gave birth to the first tiger cub at 7.25pm, followed by three further cubs over the next five hours.
The cubs were born to Naya after 108 days of pregnancy, and only 121 days (four months) after she met dad Botzman, who arrived at the zoo in February. Until they are old enough, it won’t be possible to tell if the cubs are boys or girls. Naya will now spend time getting to know her cubs in a birthing den in the middle of the zoo’s large tiger enclosure.
Team leader Donovan Glyn said: “It’s incredible news for us to have endangered Amur tiger cubs born here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, but to have four of them is just amazing, especially when you consider there are only 500 left in the wild.”
Donovan Glyn continued: “Having cameras in her den is allowing us to keep a close eye on how they’re all getting on 24/7, and it’s also letting us share in the magic of them taking their first steps.
“Naya is very attentive, cleaning the cubs regularly and letting them suckle whenever they want to. She has also stayed very calm and relaxed throughout, even when dad Botzman went in to see what was going on. He seemed to take one look at the first cub and decide to give them some space!”
The cubs’ arrival is great news for Amur tigers and the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent to breed the endangered species.
Thanks to the conservation efforts of organisations like ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which works with Amur tigers in the Russian Far East, there are now an estimated 500 Amur tigers left in the wild, ten times the number that were estimated to exist in the 1940s.
Visitors will be able to see the tiger cubs exploring their new home at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo this summer. For more information on visiting go to www.zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo
Watch video footage of the tiger cub births here