On Saturday, Nov. 25, the Beardsley Zoo welcomed a litter of extremely rare babies when their 10-year-old Amur tiger, Changbai, gave birth to four cubs. Only two of the four survived.
According to Zoo Director Gregg Dancho, There are only 500 Amur tigers known in the wild. “They are a sub-species of the Siberian tiger, and because the cubs are both female, they are among the most valuable big-cat cubs in the world.”
According to the zoo, Changbai became uninterested in nursing her kittens after the first one died. Zoo staff took the remaining three into their care, but another one died later that night.
The two surviving cubs, Reka and Zeya, are cared for in the Zoo hospital in a 90-degree ambient temperature enclosure to sustain the cubs’ warmth.
Dancho said, “Reka and Zeya almost never made it, and almost certainly would have died if they had been born in the wild. They were both underweight — just 2.2 pounds — and they were rejected by their mother.”
Now, at almost 3 months old, the cubs are spending most of the time in a playpen inside the zoo’s hospital building, cavorting with one another and exploring cardboard boxes and plastic chew toys. The sisters keep each other company, but, according to the zool if only one cub had survived, a dog would have had to be brought in as a surrogate sibling.
The zoo has set up a tiger cam so everyone can enjoy the girls’ antics from in their nursery every day, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The cubs take a lunch break from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., but you can still watch earlier footage of them during that time!
When the cubs were born, they were underweight as Dancho said. When they are mature, they will weigh about 350 pounds.
The Amur tiger is not doing very well in the wild (just 500). in addition to the wild tigers, there are several hundred in zoos worldwide, including about 130 in North America, according to zoo officials. Only seven surviving cubs were born in the USA in 2017.
It’s important to note that the tigers are not owned by the Beardsley Zoo, but by a zoo collective. The goal is that after they mature, they’ll be able to give birth to several litters of their own.
Dancho said he hopes people will contribute to the zoo to help finance the construction of an expanded tiger exhibit. The project has been on his bucket list for some time.
“The one that we have isn’t bad, but it was opened about 40 years ago and it’s showing its age,” he said.
If you would like to help the zoo with the tiger exhibit, click this LINK.