Largest Cub Weighs 4.8 Pounds, Officials Say
POSTED: 1:23 pm PDT March 15, 2008
UPDATED: 1:40 pm PDT March 15, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO — A trio of 9-day-old Sumatran tiger cubs underwent their first veterinary exam Saturday at the San Francisco Zoo, enabling staff to get their first up-close look at the triplets.
Images: Tiger Cubs
During the first exam, the zoo’s veterinary staff checked the cubs’ general health and weighed the trio. The biggest of the cubs weighed 4.8 pounds, with the two other siblings weighing 4.2 pounds each.
Zoo officials said that in a few weeks, the three cubs would receive their vaccinations, similar to shots given to domestic kittens. The unnamed cubs will not be on exhibit for several months while they continue to nurse, gain strength and coordination. The cubs’ father, George, can be seen at the zoo’s big cat grotto exhibits.
“I was happy to see that all three boys have big bellies, indicating they are very well fed and cared for by their mom,” said Jacqueline Jencek, DVM, chief of veterinary services at the San Francisco Zoo.
Officials said that the cubs’ mother Leanne, a 230-pound Sumatran tiger, has been caring for her three cubs since giving birth on March 6. The following day, the zoo’s veterinary and animal care staff visually confirmed the presence of at least one tiger cub through a video and audio monitoring system. A few days later, the staff confirmed two additional cubs when they inspected the nest box after Leanne momentarily left the birthing den for a drink of water.
“After the second day of monitoring we were certain we had more than one cub, but we didn’t want to disrupt Leanne and the maternal bond she was displaying,” said Jencek. “Leanne has been excellent at tending to her litter and she had managed to keep them hidden from our camera, which made it difficult for us to determine how many cubs really were in the nest box.”
Officials said that this remains as a very critical period for mom and her cubs, but the zoo’s veterinary staff has been very impressed with Leanne’s motherly instincts. Through their daily video observations, zoo staff has noted mom’s behavior to be attentive and gentle. The mortality rate of Sumatran cubs in the wild and in captivity is between 30 and 40 percent, and is higher with first-time mothers, according to officials.
Zoo officials said that Leanne and George are part of the Zoo’s breeding program for the purpose of increasing the genetic diversity of the Sumatran tiger population in zoos through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Tiger Species Survival Plan. There are more than 200 Sumatran tigers living in zoos around the world, zoo officials said.
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