Siberian tiger cubs
Friday 20 August 1999
SPOT THE NEW STRIPES AT TIGER FALLS
Two fluffy bundles of stripy, wild cat mischief are making their mark as Whipsnade Wild Animal Park's newest arrivals. The four-week-old Siberian tiger cubs are already charming the visitors with their antics and keeping their parents on their toes as they make their first playful explorations of Tiger Falls, their 3.5 acre enclosure.
At the moment the two cubs are the size of a domestic cat with big baby blue eyes. Apart from being delightful, the cubs are extremely important individuals being the very first offspring of Boris and Wanda. These young first-time parents came to Whipsnade from Moscow and Prague Zoo respectively as part of the European Endangered Species Programme.
The cubs are blissfully unaware that there are less than 200 Siberian tigers left in the wild, and that over the last 50 years, three out of the remaining eight species of tiger have become extinct. Captive breeding at collections like Whipsnade is critical to the survival of these magnificent cats.
- The Siberian or Amur tiger is the largest member of the cat family
- Siberian tigers have the palest coats and fewest stripes - this helps them to blend into the snowy wastes of Siberia
- There are less than 200 Siberian tigers left in the wild, and only a slightly larger population living in captivity
- In the last 50 years, three out of the eight remaining sub-species of tiger have become extinct. The Chinese tiger has also virtually died out
- The Siberian tiger is under threat from loss of habitat and illegal poaching - not only for its skin, but for the bones which are highly valued in oriental medicine
- The parents of the cubs, Boris and Wanda, have been matched as part of the European Endangered Species Programme, through which suitable pairs are brought together to ensure the best possible well-being of the species in captivity
- Boris is especially important as both his parents were born in the wild. He was hand-reared at Moscow Zoo, from where he was donated to Whipsnade
- Wanda is on loan to Whipsnade from Prague Zoo where she was parent-reared
- Both tigers are just three years old, and this is the first litter for either parent
- The gestation period for tigers is usually 104-106 days
- Despite their small size, these cubs may eventually grow to weigh as much as 300kg
- Tiger cubs, like most baby cats, are born with their eyes closed. Although their eyes are currently blue, they will darken to the brown of their parents’ eyes as they get older
For more information and details on photographs, please contact Miranda or Emma on 01582 872171
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