Taronga’s tale of tigress and her triplets
The baby big cats have finally been let out of the bag.
Three Sumatran tiger cubs earned their stripes today when they made their long-awaited public debut at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.
“I’m just so excited that finally people get to see the cubs,” zoo keeper Justine Powell told reporters.
“It’s been a big ask to have to keep it a secret for the past eight weeks.”
The cubs – known at the moment as numbers One, Two and Three – came out to play with their mother Jumilah, who was also bred at the zoo in 2003 as part of a program to boost dwindling numbers of the critically endangered species.
Cats out of the bag
A Sumatran tiger cub looks through the glass of the tiger display at Taronga Zoo.Photo: Getty Images
Ms Powell said they already had distinct personalities.
“Number One has been nicknamed SJ, Satu Junior, because he is a lot like his dad.
“Number Two is the girl, she’s very cheeky and confident and likes to hassle her brothers.
“Number Three is more laid back and I think he will be more placid than the other two.”
Ms Powell, who was also at Taronga for Jumilah’s birth, said her role so far had mainly involved monitoring the cubs with a camera.
“We just make sure everything is going smoothly and that she’s being a good mum, which she is. She’s just been awesome.”
The cubs’ dad Satu also gets to see the cubs but when it comes to raising the cubs, he has to be kept away.
Ms Powell said setting the tiger couple up was a less romantic version of an “online dating system”.
Computers match the animals according to genetics as part of an international breeding program.
They number just 400 in the wild and continue to be poached for traditional medicines and pelts while illegal palm plantations are robbing them of their habitat.
Ms Powell urged consumers to avoid buying unsustainable palm oil products.
Zoos across Australia are campaigning for Food Standards Australia to force companies selling products containing palm oil to clearly state so on the label.
The zoo will launch a naming competition in the next few days.