Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have released up-close footage of endangered tiger cubs having their first health checks with vets when they were eight weeks old.
The Zoo’s team of vets performed the health checks on male Amur tiger cubs, Dmitri, Makari and Czar, with the help of zookeepers, within the tiger enclosure at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. While seven-year-old tigress mum Naya and dad Botzman enjoyed breakfast in their den, vets were able to safely enter the tiger family’s main enclosure, where they checked the cubs’ eyes, ears and teeth, and gave them routine vaccinations.
Team leader Donovan Glyn said: “This was such a wonderful moment for the keepers here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, not only having the incredible privilege of seeing these beautiful cubs up close, but helping our vets assess Dmitri, Makari and Czar, who are all doing really well.
“The cubs weighed in at about 8kg (17lb), and it’s amazing to see how much they’ve grown in the couple of months since they were born. You do have to be very mindful of that when you’re going in to give them vaccinations – they’re not quite like little kittens anymore - but we’re an experienced team that has the cubs’ welfare as our number one priority, so we were able to keep them calm and content throughout the process.”
The cubs were born on Saturday 23 June, only 121 days after seven-year-old tigress Naya was introduced to male mate Botzman as part of the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP), which works with zoos across the continent. A fourth cub sadly had to be put to sleep by vets due to poor health.
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 can book to see the tiger cubs playing and growing, as well as ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s 3500 animals.