The Smithsonian’s National Zoo welcomed a newborn Sumatran tiger cub yesterday afternoon. Damai, the cub’s eight-year-old mother, gave birth at 4:17 pm. Although zookeepers monitored the birth via closed-circuit camera, they are allowing mother and child to bond privately and have not yet determined the cub’s sex. Staff members believe the cub is healthy based on observation of its movements and behavior.
The newborn tiger is part of Damai’s second litter. In 2013, she gave birth to a male cub named Bandar, who is currently on view in the Zoo’s Great Cats habitat. Damai and Bandar’s sibling will join him within the next several months, as the cub must receive vaccinations and pass a swim test before meeting the public.
Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered species, with only 300 to 400 living in the wild. Sparky, the newborn cub’s father, is a 13-year-old male who arrived at the Zoo in July 2016 as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Sumatran tiger Species Survival Plan. Sparky and Damai bred between February and March after a compatibility testing period, and zookeepers confirmed the pregnancy with a June 8 ultrasound.
In a press release, Craig Saffoe, curator of the Great Cats habitat, said, “This is such an exciting time for us, not only because we have a cub who appears to be doing great, but also because this animal’s genes are extremely valuable to the North American population.”