Zookeepers captured the birth of rare Sumatran tiger cubs on video. The seven-year-old rare tigress Melati gave birth to tiger cub twins at the London Zoo on June 27.
According to ZSL London Zoo Indonesia country manager Andjar Rafiastanto, the birth is an exciting news for the Sumatran tiger and a huge step in aiding the effort to conserve the increasingly rare tiger subspecies. Sumatran tiger is the flagship species for the ZSL conservation program in Indonesia.
Staff at the London Zoo says the pregnancy lasted 108 days. The first of the cubs, which are yet to be sexed and named, was delivered at 9:19 am. The tigress gave birth to the second one at 10:02 am.
The birth was captured through a remote camera system called cubcam. The tigress responded positively to its cubs, licking them clean and feeding them.
“We’re overjoyed with our new arrivals, and with how Melati is responding to her two cubs,” says assistant curator of mammals Teague Stubbington. “The cubcam allows us to observe the youngsters 24/7 while not disturbing mum or dad at all, which is ideal while they get to know their babies.”
Teague Stubbington adds that one of the staff is always on duty to watch over the cubs throughout the night. The youngsters’ father, called Jae Jae, also reportedly takes a peek at them.
Visitors of ZSL London Zoo cannot yet see Melati and its cubs. However, they can visit the eight-year-old Jae Jae in the zoo’s Tiger Territory enclosure.
Rafiastanto explains that ZSL has been working in Sumatra for over 14 years. They are collaborating with the government to strengthen the protection of very rare Sumatran tigers. The birth of the tiger cubs gives a brighter future for the subspecies’ survival.
The World Wide Fund for Nature states that there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left today. They are the smallest tiger subspecies and are known for their heavy black stripes on their orange coat.
The animals’ population is largely threatened by deforestation and poaching. Hunting tigers in Indonesia will result to imprisonment apart from paying fines. However, the Sumatran tiger population is still dwindling despite these measures.