A rare Sumatran tiger cub was born at the San Francisco Zoo last weekend, much to the excitement of zookeepers and animal enthusiasts.
The mother, a 9-year-old tiger named Leanne, and her cub are currently in seclusion at the zoo’s Lion House in order for the pair to bond without human interference for a few days. The zookeepers are monitoring the mom and her cub via a webcam.
The Sumatran tiger is a highly endangered species, so the birth was a rare event for the species. The cub’s birth was the first since Leanne delivered a litter of three males in 2008. Before then, there had not been a cub birth in 30 years.
"These births are definitely rare," said Dr. Tara Harris, a tiger specialist with the North American accrediting group Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Leanne is one of the 75 Sumatran tigers in captivity in North America, and they only give birth to two to four litters per year, Harris added.
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The three cubs Leanne delivered five years ago have been transferred to zoos across the United States. This newborn cub will stay with its mother for at least a year and a half before the zookeepers decided to transfer it as well.
The cub’s gender will be unknown until its first examination, which will take place in a couple of weeks. The father of the cub is a 6-year-old tiger named Larry, who was temporarily transferred to the San Francisco Zoo from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans for breeding.
The Sumatran tiger is an endangered species, and experts believe there to be only 400 or so left in the wild. Wild Sumatran tigers are found exclusively on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra. The population has been decimated in recent years due to land development and poaching.