August 11, 2004
Peper Long (202) 673-0206; (202) 391-2471 cell
Sarah Taylor (202) 673-0209
National Zoo’s Three Sumatran Tiger Cubs to Make Public Debut
The National Zoo’s three male Sumatran tiger cubs will go on public exhibit beginning Thursday, August 12, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. They are the third generation of Sumatran tigers at the National Zoo. The cubs made their first media appearance Wednesday morning as they explored their outdoor exhibit yard together during a special preview for the press and Friends of the National Zoo members.
To prepare the cubs for their new outdoor home, keepers and veterinarians at the National Zoo have been slowly introducing the cubs to the outside during the past six days, for a few hours in the early morning. For four days, the cubs explored their outdoor exhibit in the company of only Zoo staff; this was to ensure the cubs could get out of the moat and that they had time to explore the exhibit. The outdoor introduction continued with the next phase—the cubs’ mother joined them outside for a couple of days.
Since they were born 14 weeks ago, the three male cubs have been housed inside, off-exhibit, giving mother and cubs ample time to bond. This also allowed the cubs to grow large enough to successfully negotiate the climbs, stairs and moat in their outdoor exhibit.
The cubs, born on May 2, now weigh about 30 pounds. They join a multi-generational family at the National Zoo that includes their brother, mother, father and grandmother. The first generation is Kerinci, mother of Soyono, who is the cubs’ mother. The three males are the second litter for Soyono. Her first litter consisted of one male cub, Berani, born in September 2001; he will be three years old this fall. The sire of both litters, Rokan, also lives at the National Zoo. Male tigers do not stay with the female after mating, and do not participate in rearing the cubs.
Sumatran tigers are an endangered species, found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in habitat that ranges from lowland forest to mountain forest. Fewer than 500 Sumatran tigers are believed to exist in the wild and approximately 200 live in zoos around the world. Sumatran tigers are the smallest tiger subspecies, weighing between 200 and 300 pounds when full-grown.
Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) sponsored a public contest to name the cubs. The names are as follows, loosely translated from Indonesian:
Starbucks Coffee Company is helping the Zoo celebrate the new cubs by providing information at its coffeehouses about the tigers and the company’s conservation efforts. Beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, August 12, Starbucks will give away special T-shirts to the first 300 visitors to the Zoo, at the Connecticut Avenue entrance gates. Starbucks is also recruiting its employees and volunteers to help beautify the Zoo’s lion and tiger exhibit area, and raise money for FONZ’s Endangered Species Fund on Saturday, August 14.