Auckland Zoo’s cubs make public debut
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Auckland Zoo’s three Sumatran tiger cubs – Jalur, Berani and Cinta – made their public debut today.
After cub mother Molek checked the larger compound she went back into her den and slowly let the 14-week-old cubs out.
Several hundred parents and children watched on.
“We have been working towards breeding Sumatran tigers for the last 10 years, so to be able to announce the cubs are on display is very exciting for us, and a great achievement,” says Auckland Zoo carnivore team leader, Andrew Coers.
He said Sumartrans are critical endangered with fewer than 300 in the wild.
Staff at Auckland Zoo were not surprised that Berani was the first cub to venture out to meet the public today.
Carnivore keeper Avi Narula said the smallest of the three cubs is by far the bravest and most courageous.
“His name in Indonesian means spirited and brave, and that’s exactly what he is.”
Narula said staff had concerns for Berani when he was first born, as he didn’t seem as alert as his brother and sister.
“But thankfully now he is doing great. He’s a real space cadet, a go getter who is always playing,” he said.
Narula said today’s first official outing wasn’t only a big day for the tigers and public, but a huge day for the staff who have worked closely with the cubs since they were born.
A team of five are dedicated to looking after the tigers, and say each has cub has quickly developed its own personality.
“We develop a strong bond with them. We’ve become their surrogate mums and dads in some ways,” Narula said.
Jalur looks just like his father Oz and is the biggest of the cubs, and Cinta is an adorable female who looks just like her nine-year-old mother Molek.
Jalur means stripes in Malay and Cinta is the Indonesian word for love.
Although the cubs look cute and cuddly, they are not physically handed by zoo staff.
“It’s completely hands off for us, we let the mum do everything. She’s such a great mum, she’s dedicated to them 24/7.”
He said the cubs are a “ball of attitude.”
If you can imagine a grown tiger’s attitude condensed into a cub, that’s what they’re like, he said.
“Gathering the cubs for their 8 and 12 week vaccinations was quite a task.”
The cubs began eating solids when they were six weeks old, but still randomly suckle on Molek for a “top-up”.
A selection of meat is put into the enclosure for the family to feast on, the mother ensuring she gets her share before the little ones dig in.
“These guys aren’t just here for show, they’re here to show that we are helping increase numbers of the endangered population.”
“We are very proud.”
The zoo said the cubs will go outside the den three times a day, usually between 10am – 3pm.
During the September school holidays (September 27 to October 12) keepers have confirmed they will give the cubs access outside at 11.30am each day and there will be a tiger themed holiday programme.
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