Amur Tiger Cub Duo’s First Wobbly Steps at HWP
July 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
At just over a month old our litter of Amur tiger cubs have just started to take their first wobbly steps around their den, with mum Dominika close by their side.
This is four-year-old Dominika’s first litter and we are pleased to see that she is proving to be an excellent mother. She is regularly seen feeding and grooming her cubs as well as keeping a protective eye on them as they get used to their surroundings.
Dad Marty, has met his youngsters, but only through the wire mesh doors. Over the coming weeks he will be gradually introduced to them, though keepers are confident he will not present a risk to them. He arrived at the Park in March 2012 as a recommended move by the European Zoo Association’s Amur tiger breeding programme (EEP) and so to have a litter of cubs only one year later is an excellent conservation achievement for the keepers at the Highland Wildlife Park.
Douglas Richardson, Head of Living Collections for the Highland Wildlife Park said:
“From Wednesday 3 July, we will begin the process of increasing access for our visitors to the cubs, initially by allowing them up to the large viewing window at the tiger house and gradually giving the cubs and their mother access outside. This process will eventually culminate in the full introduction of the adult male, Marty, to Dominika and the youngsters. As Dominika is a first-time mother and the cubs are a valuable addition to the breeding programme, we have taken a very cautious approach to their care. What the keepers have observed is that mum is very calm, and competent, and the cubs are rapidly approaching the exploratory stage, so we are now happy to introduce them to their fans and the wider world.”
Amur tigers, the largest member of the big cat family, are endangered with approximately 350-450 individuals left. The wild population is possibly stable but 75% of tiger deaths are directly attributable to humans being the cause, mainly due to poaching that supports the traditional medicine trade. As humans continue to encroach upon tiger habitat, increased competition for territory and food means that there is also an increased likelihood of tigers attacking livestock and people and this usually results in the tiger being killed.
The keepers at Highland Wildlife Park hope that Dominika and Marty’s cubs will help raise awareness of the plight of Amur tigers in the wild as well as increasing the level of genetic diversity within the breeding programme.