For Release: May 30, 2006
Peper Long (202) 633-3082 or (202) 391-2471
Sarah Taylor (202) 633-3081
Tiger Cubs Born at National Zoo
A Sumatran tiger at the Smithsonian's National Zoo gave birth to a litter of three cubs on Wednesday, May 24. The tiger, 13-year-old Soyono, has been on a pregnancy watch off-exhibit for a few weeks, and started giving birth to the litter late Wednesday afternoon.
No photographs or video of the cubs are available—even National Zoo veterinarians will not examine the cubs for a few weeks, so as not to disturb the mother and her litter during this critical period. The cubs' sex will not be known until the first veterinary exam.
This is Soyono's third litter of cubs; all of the cubs were born at the National Zoo. Soyono was born at the National Zoo and the cubs' father, Rokan, was born at the San Antonio Zoo.
Following mating, the gestation period for tigers is about 100 days. The male tiger does not stay with the female after mating, and does not participate in raising the cubs. The average litter size of tigers is two or four cubs. Tiger cubs are born blind and weigh only about two pounds. They nurse for as long as nine months but begin to eat meat after about two months.
Sumatran tigers are found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in a habitat that ranges from lowland forest to submountain and mountain forest. 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 pounds; females weigh approximately 200 pounds.
The newborn cubs will not be on public exhibit for several months. Their father can be seen at the National Zoo's Lion/Tiger exhibit.
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