Cub update: Watch our Amur tiger cubs' adorable first moments

by ZSL on

We're very excited about the birth of our gorgeous tiger cubs at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo! The cubs are growing fast, and we didn't want you to miss out on their cuteness. Our keepers share their weekly updates with you. 

Week fourteen - Friday 28 September 

This is Makari

Makari the Amur tiger cub

Makari has grown a lot in confidence over the last few weeks and is always keen for food and play.

You can identify him by the more heart shaped lines above the eyes, one of which looks like a rough letter ‘M’ above his right eye. He also has a very thick black line under the eyes and generally more black between the eyes and on the cheeks.

 

Week thirteen - Friday 21 September 

Meet Dmitri 

Dimitri the Amur tiger cub

He acts cheeky with parents Naya and Botzman and brothers, but he's more reserved around people. We spot him using the sideways number ‘5’ on his right temple - earning him the nickname ‘5’ to many.

He has a pale forehead, with a small amount of black between his eyes and on his cheeks.

 

Week twelve - Friday 14 September 

Say hello to Czar!

Amur tiger cub Czar

He's always been the most confident of our three tiger cubs, venturing away from mum Naya and his brothers from an early age. That's why we decided to give him this name meaning 'a leader' or 'ruler'.

You can identify him by the two large, black circles on his forehead and thick stripe running down from the base of his tail.

 

Week eleven - Friday 7 September

Tiger cub at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo undergoing health checks

This week, we've released footage of our three cubs undergoing their health checks. 

While Naya and Botzman enjoyed breakfast in their den, keepers and vets were able to enter the tiger family’s main enclosure to check the cubs’ eyes, ears and teeth, and give them routine vaccinations.

This was a really special moment to see the cubs up close, and we're pleased to say that Dmitri, Makari and Czar are all doing really well. 

Read more about the health checks here. 

 

Week ten - Thursday 30 August 

After the sad news last week, we're so pleased to let you know that our three cubs are all doing well, and we now know that we have three boys! Keepers have named them Makari, Czar and Dmitri. At nearly ten weeks old, they're developing their own identities and we'll soon be letting you know how you can spot them yourself from their markings. More updates to follow soon.
 

Week nine - Friday 24 August 

We are extremely sad to let you know that one of our four tiger cubs was put to sleep on the morning of 22 August.

We grew increasingly concerned for his wellbeing when he appeared to be finding it difficult to walk and move around the enclosure.

Our team of vets took the cub to the veterinary hospital on site, to run tests and give him extra care and attention. Sadly, his condition deteriorated rapidly, and he became unable to walk.

The veterinary team, alongside keepers, made the difficult decision to put him to sleep. A post-mortem and further tests will be carried out, which will hopefully give us more information about the underlying cause of the cub’s condition.

Our other three cubs are in good health, and remain with mum Naya and dad Botzman in their enclosure.

It’s a very sad time for everyone, and we know your thoughts will be with us. 

 

Week eight - Friday 17 August 

Tiger cub at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

The cubs are soon to be 8 weeks old - a milestone for any young cat. 

They're coming on leaps and bounds in their play, coordination and weaning. We have also started to see some more individual personalities appearing, with some being more confident and playful than the others. Though Botzman still sometimes prefers to sit up on the platform away from the hustle and bustle surrounding the cubs, we are seeing the whole family being more and more comfortable together.

They have also all been appreciating a bit of a lapse in the hot weather and have been more active during the day rather than early morning and late afternoon. However during the periods of heavy rain we have seen the cubs all snuggling up in the house or outside den. 

 

Week seven - Friday 10 August 

Amur tiger cub with mum Naya at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

The cubs are almost seven weeks old and are now proper miniature versions of their parents in both looks and personalities. They are getting more adventurous and confident by the day and their playfulness is something we have been able to see a real difference in over the last week. They have been practicing climbing on logs, running around and playfully biting and wrestling with each other. With the cubs now strong and steady on their feet we have put a small amount of water in the pool for the cubs and adults to enjoy in the continuing heatwave.

We have also seen the cubs begin to take an interest in meat with lots of sniffing, licking and attempted chewing. Botzman’s relationship with the cubs has improved greatly since their first meeting and even though he is still a bit wary, he will happily sit next to the cubs and has even shown signs of starting to play and interact with them.

On a couple of occasions we have found the whole family in the house together in the morning! We have had a lot of questions surrounding visitors only being able to see some of the cubs and not all four. We have noticed that they have developed their own personal favourite areas to hang out - some prefer resting in the outside den and some prefer staying out of the den. Despite this there is no need to worry as Naya is still very attentive to all of the cubs and on occasions all four can still be seen together!

 

Week six - Friday 3 August 

This week keepers and visitors alike have been bowled over by the real change in the behaviour of the cubs – they have become much more confident and adventurous! Keepers couldn't believe their eyes to find all four tiny cubs looking up at them from the main tiger house one morning - as the cubs had been underneath the outside den for quite a while.

Naya continues to be an extremely nurturing and attentive mum, but has had her patience well and truly tested this week, as the cubs have started wandering off in all directions!

This week also marks dad Botzman’s first proper interactions with the cubs. Naya initially brought one cub up to Botzman, keeping a very close eye over the meeting. After around 10 minutes Botzman just walked away. We hope they will get closer and develop a relationship over the coming days and weeks.

Keep your eyes peeled for the cubs in their new favourite hiding spots – in the corner by the waterfall, back in the outside den or under shady bushes in the paddock. Patient visitors may spot them as they continue to grow and explore – if you listen carefully, you may also be able to hear them calling to Naya.

 

Week five - Friday 27 July 

The cubs are introduced to meat 

It's a very special International Tiger Day at the Zoo this year as our cubs are five weeks old. They are still tucked under their den, and with the hot weather continuing they have been emerging rarely during the day and instead focusing their feeds and appearances in the early morning and late evening. So although visible to visitors, patience is still required! Keepers have been entering the paddock on a daily basis now to check the cubs visually and service the paddock.

As the cubs have been growing rapidly, we have started to introduce them to meat so they get used to the sight and smell in preparation for them starting to have a nibble in the coming weeks. To do this we mix minced venison and beef into meatballs and place a few of them under the den, replacing them daily and keeping an noting if any has gone. Over the next few weeks we will continue this process until we know the cubs are regularly consuming some meat. Once we know this, we will start allowing Naya to bring proper meat out to the cubs.

 

Week four - Friday 20 July 

The cubs have a new hiding spot 

The cubs are continuing to grow bigger and stronger by the day and are now almost one month old. As in the previous week, Naya has been giving the cubs more independence and appears to now feed the cubs much less frequently now they are a bit older and bigger.

On Monday morning we were surprised to come in to see no tiger cubs on our den camera! We discovered that Naya had actually brought all four cubs out of the den on Sunday evening and the cubs had started using the gap underneath the den as a new hiding spot.

A couple of days later, while Naya and Botzman were in the house feeding, we went into the paddock to ensure this was a safe, suitable area for the cubs to be in. After inspecting the area and deeming it safe, we managed to capture a couple of pictures and videos of the cubs (but did not touch the cubs at all to minimise the presence of our scent).

Though Naya has been bringing one of two cubs back into the main den every now and then, this new area now seems to be the preferred area for the cubs and it means they are free to walk in and out as they please. Despite still spending most of their time hiding away, Naya calls the cubs out of their den to feed a few times a day. If you’re very lucky and very patient you may catch a glimpse of this on your visit! Over the next few weeks we expect the cubs to be out more frequently and for longer periods of time.

 

Week three - Friday 13 July 

The cubs are learning to crawl!

At almost three weeks old the cubs are all continuing to do really well. As well as having opened their eyes, the cubs' legs are getting a lot stronger and they have started to crawl properly instead of dragging themselves around.

With the hot weather persisting, Naya has been spending more and more time outside - for up to a couple of hours at a time! This shows that she is very comfortable in her environment as she feels secure enough to leave the cubs sleeping happily with full bellies in the den.

We have also noticed on a couple of occasions Naya has brought a cub outside of the den in her mouth for a minute and then taken it back in the den. As we don’t expect the cubs to make a proper appearance outside for at least another few weeks, our theory is that this may just be to give the cubs a bit of fresh air outside the den in the hot weather. While all of this is going on, dad Botzman is still happy to give his family space and has been chilling out in the cooler indoor area a lot during the heatwave.

 

Week two - Friday 6 July 

The cubs are starting to open their eyes! 

The cubs will turn two weeks old tomorrow and are all doing very well. Naya has started to venture out of the den on a more regular basis now that they're a bit older. This can be up to a few times per day for up to around half an hour at a time, allowing her to eat and drink and stretch her legs.

Botzman is still being very respectful and is giving Naya and the cubs space, but we have seen him go up to the entrance of the den to say hello.

The cubs have become more and more active and seem to have already grown visibly bigger and stronger. This has meant Naya has had to keep a closer eye on them to stop them wandering off and we have seen her picking them up by the scruff of the neck and repositioning them in the den. We have also noticed an exciting development - at least one of the cubs has started to open its eyes and the others are sure to follow suit over the next few days.

 

Week one - Friday 29 June 

Four endangered Amur tiger cubs have been born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo!

The cubs were born to mum Naya on Saturday 23 June, after 108 days of pregnancy, and only 121 days (four months) after meeting dad Botzman.

Naya and her cubs are getting to know each other in a birthing den, with Naya only venturing away from her babies occasionally to have a drink.

Naya is very attentive, cleaning the cubs regularly and letting them suckle whenever they want to. She has also stayed very calm and relaxed throughout, even when dad Botzman went in to see what was going on. He seemed to take one look at the first cub and decide to give them some space!

 

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