CLEVELAND — Just a few weeks after announcing the birth of two endangered Amur tiger cubs, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is now welcoming the addition of a 2-month-old Malayan tiger cub that comes from the Tulsa Zoo.
The female tiger cub – named Indrah – has joined the two Amur tiger cubs that were born at the Cleveland Zoo in late December “to form a social group of two endangered subspecies of tigers.”
Zoo officials say the move was spearheaded through the partnerships of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Tulsa Zoo and coordinated through the Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program.
“Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Tulsa Zoo both recently celebrated the incredible births of endangered tiger cubs,” said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Dr. Chris Kuhar. “Socialization of tigers at an early age is incredibly important and raising these cubs as part of a unique social group will allow them to develop skills and behaviors together.”
Zoo officials say the mothers of these tigers did not demonstrate maternal bonding to support their offspring.
“After intensive monitoring, the health and survival of all three cubs was determined to be at risk,” zoo officials noted. “While they differ as a subspecies, raising the Malayan cub with the two Amur tiger cubs allows for essential behavioral and social welfare.”
The cubs are currently being hand-reared together by a special team of Animal Care experts behind-the-scenes at the Zoo’s Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine. Once they are a few months old, having gained adequate strength and fitness, they will make their home together at the Zoo’s Rosebrough Tiger Passage.
Joe Barkowski, the Tulsa Zoo Vice President of Animal Conservation & Science, says the decision to transfer a cub is never taken lightly.
“In this case it was clear the move was the best decision to ensure our cub would have an opportunity to benefit from being part of a social group. The transition also allows our zoo to continue to focus on our SSP breeding recommendation for our Malayan tigers in 2021, to ensure their sustainable populations in AZA-accredited facilities.”
Adult Amur tigers are the largest tigers among the different subspecies and are also the most cold tolerant as their native range includes the far eastern side of Russia and northeastern China, according to zoo officials. Malayan tigers are a smaller subspecies of tigers found natively on the Malaysian peninsula and the southern tip of Thailand.