Three endangered Malayan tiger cubs were born at Busch Gardens Tampa Sunday, March 31. The litter consists of two males and one female.
Each cub weighs between six and seven pounds, and is currently being monitored around the clock by the park’s animal care team.
These births are critical to help preserve the species. Malayan tigers are critically endangered. Scientists estimate that only 500 remain in the wild. These newborn cubs will add to the genetic diversity of the Malayan tiger population and contribute to conservation efforts for the species.
The births are part of park’s partnership in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). The mission of the SSP is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species populations within AZA-accredited facilities. There are currently just over 50 Malayan tigers in the Species Survival Plan.
Malayan tiger cub births in managed care are rare – just one successful birth in 2012 as part of the SSP. These are the first Malayan tigers born at Busch Gardens Tampa and the first offspring for both the mother Bzui and father Mata.
The tiger cubs, along with Bzui and Mata, are currently behind the scenes and are being monitored around the clock by the park’s animal care team.
In approximately one month, the Busch Gardens animal care team will start introducing the cubs to the Jungala habitat. The cubs will rotate separate sessions on the habitat with the Bengal tiger groups that currently reside there. Until then the cubs will remain behind the scenes with their mother and keepers.
One of the male cubs is suffering from anemia and has developed a rare but benign skin condition that also occurs in both wild and domestic felines. The condition is being monitored by Busch Gardens’ veterinarians. The cub is currently in serious condition and is undergoing treatments.
Found only in the southern tip of Thailand and the Malay Peninsula, it’s estimated that only 500 Malayan tigers remain in the wild. Habitat fragmentation caused by logging and the development of roads and commercial poaching are the two leading causes. The species also often comes into conflict with people over livestock predation.