JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Santa let the cat out of the bag a little early at the Jacksonville Zoo -- well, two cats to be precise.
Zookeepers at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens unwrapped the purrfect gift just in time for the holiday season with the healthy birth of two critically endangered Sumatran tiger cubs.
The cubs’ mother, 6-year-old Dorcas, gave birth at 11:40 a.m. on Nov. 20, giving the zoo much to be grateful for just in time for Thanksgiving.
The zoo also welcomed two new giraffe babies this month, so the zoo nursery is getting pretty full.
The tigers’ keepers kept an eye on the birth of the cubs using a closed-circuit camera system.
Both cubs are male, and represent the second litter for Dorcas and their father, Berani, zookeepers said.
The boys were born two years and a day after the arrival of big sister Kinleigh Rose, who became the first Sumatran tiger birth in the zoo's 102-year history on Nov. 19, 2015.
“One of the biggest pleasures as the zoo’s tiger-management program evolves is watching the effect that it has on the wellness of our animals,” said Dan Dembiec, supervisor of mammals. “Dorcas started out as a skittish and shy tigress, but she is now a confident and skilled mother. She is a natural at providing her cubs with the necessary care to help them develop, and this is reflective of the care that she has received from the staff at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.”
Zookeepers have built a strong bond with Dorcas, which allowed them to separate the cubs from her briefly Tuesday for their first medical exam, where Dr. Yousuf Jafarey determined they look healthy, are nursing well and have no congenital health problems.
Both cubs weighed in right at 4.5 pounds, zookeepers said.
The cubs are staying with their mother in the nesting box, which is behind the scenes in the tiger viewing building, and will not be on exhibit for several months.
Zoo guests can watch a live video feed of the next box in the tiger viewing building in the Land of the Tiger exhibit.
Before the boys can join their father and mother in the outdoor habitat, they'll need a series of vaccinations, health exams and even a swim test, zookeepers said.
Zoo officials said the birth of two Sumatran tiger cubs is especially significant because the zoo’s tigers are part of a globally managed species program that works to maintain a healthy population, which is currently at less than 400 Sumatran tigers in the wild.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ cubs will help staff highlight the work being conducted in Indonesia to protect Sumatran tigers and their prey, officials said.
Since the Land of the Tiger exhibit opened in 2014, the Jacksonville Zoo has supported an elite Wildlife Protection Unit consisting of four highly trained rangers who risk their lives each day to protect BBS National Park, one of the last of the tiger strongholds, zoo officials said.
With 75 cents of each paid admission going toward conservation, guests and members have helped the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens contribute more than $1 million to conserving plants and animals in the wild over the last five years.
Sumatran Tiger Cubs
We are overjoyed to announce the birth of two critically endangered Sumatran tiger cubs! The pair, both boys, were born on November 20 to mother Dorcas (whom some of you might know as Lucy) and father, Berani. They are exactly two years and a day younger than big sister Kinleigh Rose! The two received their neonatal exam on Tuesday and both appear to be healthy. They are nursing well and Dorcas is being an excellent mother. The cubs will not be on exhibit for several months. They still require a series of health examinations and vaccinations. They’ll continue to strengthen the bond with their mom, and even require a swim test before the cubs are ready to explore their outdoor habitat in public viewing areas. A live video feed of the nest box can be seen in the tiger viewing building, on either side of the donor wall. The birth of two Sumatran tiger cubs is especially significant because the Zoo’s tigers are part of a globally-managed species program. Zoological facilities around the world, including Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ work to maintain a healthy population. There are currently less than 400 Sumatran tigers in the wild.Posted by Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Thursday, November 30, 2017