Endangered tiger cubs get Aussie home

Endangered tiger cubs get Aussie home

March 04, 2008 05:03pm

THREE Sumatran tiger cubs have arrived at Queensland’s Australia Zoo from Indonesia in a coup for the zoo that will revitalise the tiger’s international breeding program.

Australia Zoo exotic carnivore supervisor Giles Clark said the 12-week-old siblings – one male and two female – arrived at the Sunshine Coast zoo last week in an “incredibly important” step for species worldwide.

“What they’re actually doing is introducing new bloodlines and genetics into the captive population which is vital,” Mr Clark said.

“So, to put that in context, this is the first time in over 30 years that Sumatran tigers from Indonesia have been allowed outside the country for breeding.”

He said that up until now, captive populations had been heading towards a “genetic bottleneck” where inbreeding would soon happen.

Therefore, the three cubs would revitalise the program, which operated due to the “strong possibility” the tigers were wiped out in the wild, he said.

The cubs join 11 tigers already at the zoo, including six Sumatran tigers, and their arrival prompted an upgrade to the zoo’s tiger facilities.

Mr Clark said the upgrade ensured more tigers could be brought to the zoo in coming years to breed with the cubs once they reached the breeding age of three.

The new cubs will go on display at the zoo after a 30-day quarantine period and it was hoped they would raise awareness of the species’ plight, he said.

Australia Zoo is owned by Terri Irwin, widow of the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.



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