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National Zoo's Sumatran Tiger Cubs to Take Swim Reliability Test

  • Tiger cub resting

WHAT:Two 13-week-old Sumatran tiger cubs, a male and female, will make their media debut and take a swim reliability test; their public debut is Nov. 18, weather permitting.


WHEN:Wednesday, Nov. 6

Noon-12:30 p.m.


WHO: Craig Saffoe, curator of Great Cats, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Leigh Pitsko, animal keeper, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Marie Magnuson, animal keeper, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Dell Guglielmo, animal keeper, Smithsonian's National Zoo


WHERE:Great Cats exhibit (bottom of the Zoo near Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel)

3001 Connecticut Ave. N.W.

Note: Park in Parking Lot D at the bottom of the Zoo


The male and female Sumatran tiger cubs born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo Aug. 5 will make their media debut Wednesday during their swim reliability test. Their public debut is the following Wednesday, Nov. 18. During the test, the cubs must prove that they are able to swim, navigate toward shore and climb from the moat onto dry land. Animal care staff will gently place the cubs into the water and help direct them to shore. By passing the test, the cubs will prove to animal care staff that they are ready to safely explore the outdoor habitat.

This is the first litter of Sumatran tiger cubs born at the Zoo since 2006, and the first litter for their mother, Damai. The cubs were sired by the Zoo's male tiger, Kavi. Sumatran tigers are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is estimated that between 400 and 500 exist in the wild.

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