ZSL London Zoo’s trio of tiger cubs had their first ever health check this week, and their eager keepers were finally able to determine the sexes of the new arrivals.
Carrying out the medical in the cubs’ custom-built den where the ten-week-olds are most relaxed, the vet team and tiger keepers formed an efficient production line to get their vaccinations and sexing completed as quickly as possible.
Tiger keepers Paul Kybett and Teague Stubbington had to first separate mum Melati from her brood before the vets could begin their important task, and were then in charge of rounding up the cubs - which turned out to be easier said than done, as the triplets already have sharp claws and feisty personalities.
Chief vet Nic Masters then gave each cub a once-over, with the first step being the sexing. After announcing that that Melati was mum to two bouncing baby boys and one adorable girl, he then checked each cub thoroughly, examining their tiny stomachs, paws and ears and declared them all fit and healthy.
Vet nurse Jo Korn had the final and vital task of micro-chipping each cub, recording their sexes and vital statistics on to the chip, which in turn will be added to the studbook records for the worldwide breeding programme of this critically-endangered species.
Zookeeper Paul Kybett said: “Our three Sumatran tiger cubs are doing incredibly well and their first health check is a major milestone for them; I’m delighted to say that they all look fantastic.
“It was so exciting to finally find out that we have two boys and a girl, but it’s also really important for us to give them their first health check and their vaccinations – which helps to boost their young immune system.
“The micro-chip provides a simple but effective way of identifying the cubs in the future, and their details can now be added to the world wide conservation breeding programme for Sumatran tigers – which one day they will play a vital role in.
“While I was so excited to see the cubs, I can’t say they were thrilled to see us - but it was actually a really good thing to see them wriggling and hissing at us, they were showing off a perfectly natural behaviour.”
Now keepers know the sexes of the cubs, the exciting process of choosing names begins. ZSL London Zoo’s keepers will be running a competition with Channel 5’s Milkshake programme, with the winner helping to choose names for the three cubs.