Featured Image / San Diego Zoo Safari Park
A trio of adorable tiger cubs made their public debut in late April at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. First looks at the cubs were from the maternity exhibit at Tull Family Tiger Trail. These are Sumatran tigers, a rare subspecies listed as critically endangered. The cubs were born on January 28.
Adult female sumatran tiger Joanne led her three cubs, Nelson, Cathy, and Debbie out into the sunshine where they played, pounced, and explored their large and interesting habitat. This is the first litter Joanne has raised. “Joanne is doing a wonderful job with this litter of tiger cubs,” said Lori Hieber, senior keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “She’s a doting mother, very tolerant, very patient with them. She’s doing everything that we would hope.”
Each cub is developing its own unique traits and personality. Nelson is the only male in the litter and he is the largest. Nelson is often calm while his sister Cathy is usually the most vocal. Debbie was initially the smallest, but she is now gaining in size and weight. Debbie is bold and the most adventurous of the three.
The cubs are still nursing and are expected to continue for several months. They have also been introduced to some solid foods including beef heart and beef shank.
The Safari Park is currently home to eight Sumatran tigers—including Joanne’s first cub, Suka, a male who is now 7 months old.
San Diego Zoo / YouTube
The continued existence of this species is in grave danger. There are fewer than 350 Sumatran tigers in the wild, and that number continues to dwindle. Scientists estimate that this species could be extinct in its native Sumatra as soon as 2020, unless measures are taken to protect and preserve it.
Like most big cats, tigers face great challenges in the wild. Direct threats are loss of habitat and conflicts with humans. The biggest, most damaging impact on the species continues to be poaching. Tigers are killed by poachers who then illegally sell their body parts, mostly for folk remedies.
People can help protect wild tigers by avoiding products that harm tiger habitats and refusing to purchase items made from endangered wildlife.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The important conservation and science work of these entities is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.