Tiger Cubs Go on Display at Zoo
KSDK -- Five Amur tiger cubs made their first public appearance at the St. Louis Zoo more than three months after they were born.
As of Tuesday, visitors to the zoo will be able to see the cubs at the Big Cat Country exhibit, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., weather permitting. The two males and three females have been kept at in indoor facility at the zoo since they were born on April 28.
The cubs have grown from an average of two pounds to nearly 25 pounds each, according to the zoo.
Amur tigers, formerly known as Siberian tigers, are one of the more rare breeds of tiger in the world. Fewer than 500 of these tigers live in small populations in far eastern Russia and northeast China.
Baby Amur Tigers
Five critically endangered Amur Tigers were born at the Saint Louis Zoo on April 28, 2008. The five cubs - two males and three females - have been with their mother "Kalista" in an off-display indoor maternity den at Big Cat Country for about three months. The cubs have grown from an average of two pounds to about 25 pounds.
See video of the tigers at just a few weeks old on KSDK Newschannel 5.
Beginning August 5, 2008, the cubs will explore grass, trees and rocks in their Big Cat Country outdoor habitat with their mother every day from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, weather permitting. The cubs have not yet been named.
Although this is Kalista's first litter, she is proving to be an excellent mother. Normal litter size for a tigress is two or three cubs. However, as many as six cubs have been documented. With a litter this size, Kalista is definitely kept busy nursing and caring for her cubs.
"It is so rare to have a litter of this size," says Steve Bircher, curator of mammals at the Saint Louis Zoo. Two of the female cubs lost weight and were somewhat weaker than the other three after birth. They have been given supplemental feedings and special care by the veterinary and animal care staff but have remained with their mother. "We are thrilled she is doing such a great job," adds Bircher.
Meet the Parents
Kalista is seven years old and came to the Saint Louis Zoo from the Philadelphia Zoo in 2003. Khuntami, the 15-year-old father, was born in the wilds of eastern Russia and arrived in St. Louis from the Omaha Zoo in 2006. He is considered one of the most genetically valuable tigers in North America.
The Zoo's Amur tigers, formerly called Siberian tigers, are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Tiger SSP is responsible for maintaining a genetically healthy population of tigers in North American zoos - the Amur, Sumatran and Malayan subspecies of tigers. There are approximately 300 tigers in the Tiger SSP and fewer than 500 living in small populations of far eastern Russia and northeast China. Loss of habitat due to logging activities, human encroachment and poaching are the main threats to their survival in the wild.