Three Amur tiger cubs were born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium last month. Based on observations from a remote camera the newborn cubs appear to be healthy and are nursing in a behind-the-scenes denning area with their mother.
This is the second litter of cubs for eleven-year-old female, Irisa, who gave birth to a litter last year.
Father to this new litter is eight-year-old Jupiter who arrived at the Columbus Zoo in March, 2015 from the Czech Republic. Jupiter’s move to the Columbus Zoo was through a partnership with the European Endangered Species Program(EEP) and the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) in an effort to increase the genetic health and diversity of tigers in human care. This birth marks the second litter sired by Jupiter but his first in a North American zoo.
“Welcoming tiger cubs at the Zoo is always exciting but it is also a time when we proceed with cautious optimism,” said President/CEO Tom Stalf. “Tiger cubs are very fragile at birth, however they appear to be thriving and Irisa is being an attentive mother.”
With the addition of the three cubs there are currently seven Amur tigers at the Columbus Zoo.
The tiger is the largest of all cat species. Native to Asia there are six living and three extinct subspecies of tiger. Currently there are fewer than 150 Amur tigers in 49 AZA institutions in North America. These tigers are considered pedigreed since they have a known ancestry and breeding recommendations to maintain genetic diversity are managed by a studbook.
Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), also historically referred to as Siberian tigers, are critically endangered; fewer than 400 individuals are believed to exist in the forests of the Russian Far East. 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.
The Columbus Zoo is a long-term supporter of the Siberian Tiger Project which was established in 1992 by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Zoo’s privately raised funding contributes to improving human-tiger conflict mitigation, increasing capacity for young Russian scientists, and biological monitoring of tigers through camera trapping, track surveys and radio collaring.
Home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 600 species from around the globe, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium leads and inspires by connecting people and wildlife. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Course. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also operates the Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio.