Rare tiger cubs born
29 October 2008 06:34
The birth of the two rare Amur tiger cubs at Banham Zoo has generated huge excitement amongst staff – partly due to the installation of infra red CCTV cameras into the nursery box.
They had been following tigress Malyshka’s pregnancy with keen interest and on Friday October 17, only a few days later than predicted, she was seen inside her box with two cubs.
Since the birth she has been a very attentive mother, only popping out of the box to feed before immediately returning to her young.
Female tigers can be notoriously secretive when it comes to their offspring but the cameras have allowed staff the opportunity to monitor Malyshka’s behaviour without any intrusion and the development of the new arrivals has been carefully observed.
The zoo has also installed a monitor in one of the viewing shelters, allowing visitors unprecedented live footage of the female and her cubs, allowing the sort of access usually only available to the keepers themselves.
The youngsters’ arrival is also important news for the international breeding programme to safeguard Amur (Siberian) tigers which are an endangered species.
Banham is the only zoo in the UK to have an official recommendation from the studbook to breed this year, and has been informed that Malyshka is the fourth most important female tiger in the European captive breeding programme. She was received from a Russian zoo as a two-year-old, in August 2006, following a worldwide search to find a suitable unrelated mate for male tiger Mischa.
Breeding of tigers is carefully monitored to ensure the maximum amount of genetic diversity is preserved, and the cubs’ mother has few relatives within the breeding programme at this time.
Recent information indicates that there are only between 450 and 500 animals left in the wild which makes captive breeding programmes such as the one the zoo participates in for the Amur tiger potentially crucial for their future survival.
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