COLUMBUS, OH--There are four new tiger cubs at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The Amur tiger cubs are rare with less than 500 known to be living on the earth.
"There's around 390 of them left in the wild and about 136 animals in 50 North American zoos," said Adam Felts, assistant curator for "Mainland Asia."
Photo: The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
Their populations are dwindling due to overhunting of prey species such as deer and wild boar, habitat loss, and poaching for skins and body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine. Humans directly cause 75 to 85 percent of tiger deaths, according to the zoo.
The first cub was born at approximately 5:30 p.m. last Friday and the last one arrived about eight hours later. The newborn cubs, which generally weigh just two to three pounds at birth, are being monitored remotely by a team using watching a feed from a camera mounted in the den.
"At this time Mara is taking excellent care of the cubs and all are nursing," said Felts. "We are cautiously optimistic about the survival of all four cubs."
As long as Mara is taking care of the cubs and they are observed nursing it could be days before veterinarians do the first well-baby exam and the gender of the cubs is determined, and several months before the cubs can be seen by guests in the outdoor habitat.
These cubs are the second for six-year-old female, Mara, and ten-year-old male, Foli. It is the second litter of Amur tigers ever born at the Columbus Zoo; the last litter was born in June 2012. Those two cubs were hand-reared after staff members became concerned about maternal care by the then first time mother, and loss of power from a storm interrupted the ability for staff to monitor the cubs utilizing the camera in the den.