MINNESOTA ZOO CELEBRATES BIRTH OF ENDANGERED AMUR TIGER CUB
Apple Valley, MINN – May 1, 2017 – The Minnesota Zoo is excited to announce the birth of an endangered female Amur tiger cub.
One female cub was born Wednesday, April 26, after an approximate 105-day gestation period. After observing the mother and cub overnight, Zoo staff decided to pull the cub for hand raising because the mother was not showing the quality of maternal care that staff felt she needed to successfully raise the cub. Seventy two percent of Amur tiger cubs survive the first 30 days. The female cub will remain behind the scenes while Zoo staff cares for her. The Zoo has set up a special live web cam to view the tiger cub at http://www.mnzoo.org/tigercub2017.
“This is a significant birth for the Minnesota Zoo and for Amur tigers more broadly,” says Diana Weinhardt, Minnesota Zoo’s Northern Trail Curator. “With this being Sundari’s first cub, we are all very excited.”
This is the first offspring for mother, Sundari (Sun-dar-ee), who was born at the Minnesota Zoo in June of 2012. Father, 7-year-old Putin (Poo-tin) has sired two other litters in Denmark, where he lived before coming to the Minnesota Zoo in 2015 with the assistance of Delta Air Lines, a long-time supporter of the Minnesota Zoo. Putin was brought to the Minnesota Zoo as a recommendation of the Amur Tiger Global Species Management Plan, which is co-coordinated by Minnesota Zoo staff. He is the most genetically valuable Amur tiger in the North American breeding program, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Tiger Species Survival Plan® (SSP). Coordinated by Minnesota Zoo staff for more than three decades, the Tiger SSP recommended Sundari and Putin as a breeding pair.
“We’re thrilled about the birth of this cub! In my roles coordinating the national and global breeding programs for Amur tigers, I recommended this pair for breeding because her parents have valuable genes that are important for sustaining a healthy zoo-based population that can serve as a backup for the endangered wild population” said Dr. Tara Harris, Minnesota Zoo’s Vice President for Conservation, Coordinator of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Tiger Species Survival Plan® (SSP), and Co-Convenor of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Amur Tiger Global Species Management Plan.
The last tiger birth at the Minnesota Zoo occurred in 2012, when Sundari was born to female Angara - who is currently located at Como Zoo in St. Paul. Since its opening in 1978, the Minnesota Zoo has welcomed more than 40 Amur tiger cubs. Amur tigers are exhibited on the Minnesota Zoo’s Northern Trail.
The largest of all cats, the Amur tiger is a top predator of far eastern Asia. Its thick fur protects 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.
Poaching – of the tigers themselves and their prey – is the primary threat to the Amur tiger’s survival. Due to conservation efforts, Amur tiger numbers have increased from as low as 20 or 30 around 1940 to approximately 500 today. Through the Tiger SSP’s Tiger Conservation Campaign, the Minnesota Zoo supports efforts to improve anti-poaching patrols in the Russian Far east and to close old logging roads in order to prevent poacher access.
Coordinated by Minnesota Zoo staff since its initiation in 2012, the Tiger SSP’s Tiger Conservation Campaign has raised over $750,000 for on-the-ground projects that are helping save wild tigers. The Campaign aims to reach $1 million in support of tiger conservation by the end of 2017.
The public can learn about and contribute to these efforts by visiting tigercampaign.org and facebook.com/tigercampaign.
The Minnesota Zoo is also one of 15 coalition members that comprise the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (altaconservation.org). These coalition members pool their resources to help support conservation efforts for wild Amur tigers and leopards. Funds contributed by the Minnesota Zoo have helped monitor wild populations of these highly-endangered cats in the Russian Far East.
The Minnesota Zoo is a year-round destination located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. The Zoo’s mission is to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. 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).