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 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.
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.
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