For Release: May 4, 2004
Peper Long 202-673-0206
Sarah Taylor 202-673-0209
Tiger Cubs Born at National Zoo
Zookeepers at the National Zoo’s Lion/Tiger Hill arrived early Sunday morning to a litter of three Sumatran tiger cubs. The mother, female Sumatran tiger “Soyono,” has been on a pregnancy watch off-exhibit for several weeks, and gave birth to the litter sometime Sunday morning. Three generations of Sumatran tigers live at the National Zoo.
No photographs or video of the cubs are available – even Zoo veterinarians will not be able to examine the cubs for a few weeks, so as not to disturb the mother and her litter during this critical period. In the wild, mortality risk is high for tiger cubs – only half of all cubs survive to independence from their mother.
Following mating, the gestation period for tigers is about 103 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 three 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 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 lbs.; females weigh approximately 200 lbs.
The newborn cubs will not be on public exhibit for several months.
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