2 Rare Tiger Cubs at National Zoo a Victory for Conservationists
Good news from the Smithsonian's National Zoo on Connecticut Avenue.
No, Mei Xiang, the zoo’s female Giant Panda, isn’t pregnant, at least as far as anyone knows for sure.
But the Zoo’s four-year-old female Sumatran Tiger Damai was—since June.
Monday evening, she gave birth to two Sumatran Tiger cubs, the first at 6:15 p.m and the second at 8:23 p.m. Their sex has not yet been determined, although one observer indicated the first cub might be a boy, given he was very large.
The births were a triumph for conservationists and naturalists as well as the zoo. Sumatran Tigers are endangered with fewer than than 500 living tigers left in the world.
Great cats curator Craig Saffoe told National Public Radio, “All I can do is smile because the team has realized our goal of producing critically endangered tiger cubs."
The mother is said to be doing fine, according to zoo officials and personnel. She came out of her enclosure the next day, leaving the cubs safely behind. They have not opened their eyes as of last report. Damai has spent time feeding and cleaning the cubs.
The cubs will probably not be on view until late fall, but everybody can watch the pair on the zoo’s Tigercubcam. There are black and white photographs on the zoo’s websites and videos on the net.
The father is 12-year-old Kavi . It was confirmed on June 21 that Damai was pregnant.
Zoo officials described the first-time mom Damai as “a natural.”
Apparently, Kavi and Damai had quite the relationship. According to Saffoe, “It’s taken more than two years of perserverance getting to know Damai and Kavi and letting them get to know each other so that we could reach this celebratory moment. Damia came to us as a young tiger herself. So, it’s really special to see her become a great mom.”