A pair of endangered Amur tiger cubs were born Sunday, June 17 at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley.
After observing the mother and cubs overnight, zoo staff decided to pull the cubs for hand-raising because the mother was not showing the quality of maternal care staff felt she needed to successfully raise the cubs.
Only one cub -- the second-born and larger of the two -- survived. Approximately 2/3 of Amur tiger cubs survive their first 30 days.
The last tiger birth at the Minnesota Zoo occurred in 2004. Since its opening in 1978, the Minnesota Zoo has welcomed nearly 40 Amur tiger cubs.
This is the first offspring for both parents: mother Angara and father Molniy.
The largest of all cats and one of six remaining tiger subspecies, the Amur tiger is a top predator of far eastern Asia. The Amur tiger's natural home, its reputation as a threat to livestock and humans, and its value to poachers has led to its population decline.
Around 1940, the wild Amur tiger population in Russia was estimated to be as low as 20 or 30. In 2005, scientists estimated that the population had recovered to the 430 to 500 range, but it is thought the wild population has declined since then to about 350.
The Minnesota Zoo is one of 13 coalition members that comprise the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance. Since 2007, the Minnesota Zoo, in cooperation with other North American zoos, has helped raise over $90,000 for these efforts.
The Minnesota Zoo has set up a live web cam to view the tiger cub at http://www.mnzoo.org/animals/animals_liveCam_tigercub.asp