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Minnesota Zoo: Only One of Two Newborn Tiger Cubs Survived

Two Amur tiger cubs were born June 17 at the Minnesota Zoo. Only one survived the first few days and is now being hand-raised by zoo staff.

Editor's note: The following is a press release from the Minnesota Zoo.

is excited to announce the birth of an endangered Amur tiger cub.

Two cubs were born June 17, after an approximately 105 day gestation period. After observing the mother and cubs overnight, Zoo staff decided to pull the cubs for hand raising because the mother was not showing the quality of maternal care that staff felt she needed to successfully raise the cubs. Only one cub – the larger of the two and the second born – survived the critical first few days. Approximately two thirds of Amur tiger cubs survive the first 30 days. The female cub will remain off exhibit while Zoo staff cares for her.

This is the first offspring for both parents, mother, Angara (on-GAR-a) and father, Molniy (MOL-ni). The Zoo has set up a special live web cam to view the tiger cub. You can view the live web cam here.

The last tiger birth at the Minnesota Zoo occurred in 2004. Since its opening in 1978, the Minnesota Zoo has welcomed nearly 40 Amur tiger cubs.

Amur tigers, managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Tiger Species Survival Plan® (SSP), have been part of the Minnesota Zoo’s Northern Trail exhibit since the Zoo opened in 1978. Zoo staff members have coordinated the Tiger SSP for more than two decades, and continue to lead efforts conserving tigers in the wild.

The largest of all cats and one of six remaining tiger subspecies, the Amur tiger is a top predator of far eastern Asia. Its thick fur and padded paws protect it against the extreme cold and icy winds of winter, while its stripes help render it invisible to prey. Amur tigers are carnivores, eating mostly large mammals such as deer and wild boar. They will travel over extensive forest territories in search of food. With its stealth, speed, and sheer strength, the Amur tiger is well-suited to its role as a hunter.

The Amur tiger’s home range, reputation as a threat to livestock and humans, and value to poachers has led to its population decline. Around 1940, the wild Amur tiger population in Russia was estimated to be as low as 20 or 30. In 2005, scientists estimated that the population had recovered to 430-500 individuals, but it is thought that wild Amur tigers have declined since then to about 350. Concerted conservation efforts help protect these remaining endangered tigers from the persistent threats of poaching and habitat loss.

The Minnesota Zoo is one of 13 coalition members that comprise the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (amur-leopard.org). These coalition members pool their resources to help support conservation efforts for wild Amur tigers and leopards. Since 2007, the Minnesota Zoo, in cooperation with other North American zoos, has helped raise over $90,000 for these efforts.

Minnesota Zoo staff also coordinates the Tiger SSP’s new Tiger Conservation Campaign, aimed at raising awareness about the plight of wild tigers and funding for their conservation. Since January 2012, the Minnesota Zoo and its young professionals organization, AZUL, have raised nearly $15,000 for this program in support of anti-poaching efforts in the Russian Far East, as well as the formation of a Tiger Health Support Program. The public can learn about and contribute to these efforts by visiting mnzoo.org/tigerssp/campaign and facebook.com/tigercampaign.

The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)

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