Endangered Amur tiger cubs born at wildlife park

A litter of three endangered Amur tiger cubs has been born at a wildlife park.

Staff at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) Highland Wildlife Park say the cubs are doing well so far but they remain cautious at this early stage.

Born on May 18, the cubs’ eyes have still to open and they are being nursed by their mother, Dominika, away from public view.

However visitors to the park can still see their father, Botzman, who will be gradually introduced to the cubs as they grow older.

Vickie Larkin, carnivore team leader at the park, said: “We are really excited about our new arrivals, but the first few weeks of a cub’s life are crucial, so we are keeping public viewing closed for now to give Dominika and the youngsters lots of peace and quiet.

“The cubs’ eyes will start to open any day now and in the coming weeks they will be weighed and sexed during their first health check, and named shortly after.

“Amur tigers grow quite quickly, increasing almost four times in size within the first month of their life, but they will remain dependent on their mum for at least 15 months.

“We hope visitors will start to see them out and about towards the end of July.

“Dominika is a very attentive mother and it is beautiful to see her given the chance to display these natural behaviours again.”

The mother was born at Highland Wildlife Park in 2009 and gave birth to her first litter of cubs in 2013.

Botzman fathered three cubs in 2018 at Whipsnade Zoo and arrived at Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie last October.

In the wild, the tigers are now only found in isolated populations around the Amur river valley in the far east of Russia, and on the north-east border of China.

RZSS is part of the endangered species breeding programme for Amur tigers and has also supported tiger conservation in Nepal by developing methods to evaluate tiger diets within its WildGenes laboratory, based at Edinburgh Zoo.

Ms Larkin said: “There are just 500 Amur tigers remaining in the wild, so our adorable cubs represent an important contribution to the future of this endangered species which is at risk of extinction due to extensive habitat loss and poaching.”