Four endangered Amur tiger cubs at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have taken their first steps outside, just in time for World Tiger Day.
The Amur tiger cubs, who were born four weeks ago in a den in the middle of the Zoo’s large tiger enclosure, were finally snapped stepping out as a family after mum Naya spent several days carrying them around in her mouth, one-by-one, to help them discover their surroundings.
Team leader Donovan Glyn said: “Seeing all four of these endangered tiger cubs out and about, playing in the grass together, is the perfect way for us to begin the summer here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. They are just as energetic and playful as one-month-old kittens would be, and we can’t wait to watch them learn and grow under their mum and dad’s watchful eyes over the next few months.
“Naya has been such a patient, dedicated mum, picking up each cub in her mouth, and giving them little one-on-one tours of the enclosure, to help them get to know their surroundings and build their confidence.”
The cubs were born only 121 days after seven-year-old tigress Naya arrived at the UK’s largest Zoo and was introduced to male mate Botzman, as part of the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent.
Donovan Glyn continued: “There are only 500 Amur tigers left in the wild, so we are delighted to have four incredible little Amur cubs here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. It’s great news for the breeding programme, and we know our visitors will be thrilled to see them for themselves and learn more about the importance of protecting endangered species like these.”
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.