By TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA
The Calgary Zoo is earning more stripes as a world-class facility with the arrival of a newborn tiger.
Staff announced today one of its Amur — or Siberian — tigers gave birth last month to the cub.
And because it is in the caring hands of mother Kita, zookeepers and veterinarians have yet to examine it or determine its gender, said conservation education manager Kevin Strange.
“We’ve been waiting to share this news because, in the wild, reproduction is not considered successful until the critical post-partum period has passed and the mother emerges from the den with her young,” Strange said.
“Amur tigers are part of a species survival program, so every birth is significant.”
The cub was born March 21 at 11:30 p.m. to a mother who previously delivered a litter of four tigers in 2000, and she is keeping a close eye on her latest offspring.
The attention, coupled with a lack of interference from zoo staff, helps with the bonding and mothering, said keeper Larry Miller.
“Kita is an experienced mother and has taken very good care of her cub,” said the 35-year zoo veteran, adding the father is another of the facility’s tigers, Lashka.
“With no competition for milk from a litter mate, the baby has become quite the little butterball.”
Zoo spokeswoman Laurie Herron confirmed the cub has found its feet and is trying to venture into public view, but 11-year-old Kita is keeping her baby inside the tiger den.
“Visitors may be lucky enough to get a brief sighting of the cub since it has made his way to the doorway to get a peek outside, but the mom isn’t ready to let her baby out,” Herron said.
“We anticipate it’ll make its way out of the den probably in a few weeks.”
Video highlights from the den are available at www.enmax.com/tiger, and photos of the cub can be seen at www.calgaryzoo.com.