For Release: July 13, 2004
Peper Long (202) 673-0206
Sarah Taylor (202) 673-0208
National Zoo's Sumatran Tiger Cubs Healthy at 10 Weeks Old
Weighing in at 19 pounds, 19.5 pounds and 21 pounds, the National Zoo's three male Sumatran tiger cubs are growing right on schedule, according to Zoo veterinarians. They've gained between 17 and 19 pounds since they were born on May 2. On Monday, the 10-week-old tigers, members of an endangered species, received their second set of vaccinations and a physical exam, which included a weigh-in.
The vaccination protects against three common diseases in domestic and wild cats, including upper respiratory tract infections. "All cats get this triple vaccination," said Dr. Carlos Sanchez, Zoo veterinarian. Sanchez and veterinary resident Dr. Ellen Bronson worked with Zoo keepers to administer the vaccine, draw a blood sample and examine the cubs quickly, to minimize stress for the young animals. The vets spent about five minutes with each cub, checking ears, eyes, mouth, teeth and paws. They also listened to each cub's heartbeat and felt its abdomen for any abnormalities. "They look healthy," Sanchez said after the examinations. The vets will review blood work and check for antibodies to the vaccine as an indicator of protection for the cubs.
While the vets worked, the keepers held the cubs in their arms, sometimes pulling gently on the scruff of the neck-a familiar touch for the cubs. "It's the way their mom carries them. The cubs aren't going to be squirming around while she's carrying them," explained Belinda Reser, assistant curator of tigers and lions.
Sumatran tigers are found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They are endangered; fewer than 500 Sumatran tigers are believed to exist in the wild and 210 animals live in zoos around the world. Sumatran tigers are the smallest tiger. Males weigh approximately 265 lbs.; females weigh approximately 200 lbs.
The 10-week-old cubs are not yet on exhibit; they will likely go on public exhibit in late August. However, they can be seen online through the Zoo's live tiger Web camera.
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