Four endangered Amur tiger cubs have been born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, with zookeepers capturing their first moments on hidden cameras.
The as-yet unsexed cubs were born to seven year-old Amur tigress Naya, on Saturday 23 June, after 108 days of pregnancy, and only 121 days (four months) after meeting dad Botzman.
Keepers at the UK’s largest Zoo were anxiously monitoring second-time mum Naya using remote camera technology as she gave birth to the first tiger cub at 7.25pm, and were then elated to see her give birth to three further cubs over the subsequent five hours.
Team leader Donovan Glyn said: “It’s incredible news for us to have endangered Amur tiger cubs born here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, but to have four of them is just amazing, especially when you consider there are only 500 left in the wild.”
Naya and her cubs are getting to know each other in a birthing den in the middle of the Zoo’s large tiger enclosure, with Naya only venturing away from her babies occasionally to have a drink.
Donovan Glyn continued: “Having cameras in her den is allowing us to keep a close eye on how they’re all getting on 24/7, and it’s also letting us share in the magic of them taking their first steps.
“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!”
Mum Naya and dad Botzman have been getting on extremely well since Naya arrived at the Zoo in February, and the cubs are a success for the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent to breed the endangered species.
Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) are classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Thanks to the conservation efforts of organisations like ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which works with Amur tigers in the Russian Far East, there are now an estimated 500 Amur tigers left in the wild, ten times the number that were estimated to exist in the 1940s.
Visitors will be able to see the tiger cubs exploring their new home at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo this summer. Zookeepers will also be revealing exclusive footage of the cubs on ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s social media channels over the next few months.