Two Sumatran tiger cubs were born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. on August 5th. Not only are they adorable, but also the birth is highly celebrated by the zoo and the World Wildlife Fund, which reports there are less than 500 Sumatran tigers living today. Damai, the zoo resident Sumatran female, gave birth to the cubs on Monday evening, and keepers say they are both healthy. Damai and the male tiger at the Smithsonian National Zoo, Kavi, have bred several times over the last year, but this is Damai’s first litter. While the cubs will not be on view for several months, fans can tune into the zoo’s web camera’s to watch them develop.
Breeding big cats and other animals in captivity is difficult work, although zoos have been trying for many years in to order to help continue the various species. Breeders at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago say that stress levels and hormones need to be measured and monitored. Compatibility also needs to be taken into consideration. Programs have also been created to match animals with potential mates from other zoos to avoid inbreeding and find better compatibility. Large predatory species are more difficult to create matches for because of their aggression and difficulty zookeepers have handling and moving them.
Other zoos are finding recent success at breeding large cats as well, however. The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle gave birth to lion cubs in November. They were the first lion cubs born at the Seattle zoo, after twenty years of attempts at breeding. The Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington currently has young tigers and snow leopards. Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York just released the names of their baby lion cubs, Savannah and Tiberius. As more data and cooperation take place in zoos around the country, breeding efforts will likely become increasingly successful.