Three Sumatran tiger cubs, the first born in Canada, debuted to the public with 4 year old Mom Brytne. The cubs, two of which are female and one male, explored their new quarters in the AGF Sumatran Tiger Exhibit. Not only are the births a first for Canada and for the Toronto Zoo, they are vitally important to the North American and world population of Sumatran tigers. Despite protection, they are still hunted in their native Sumatra. In the wild, as few as 400 could remain and experts think the species could be extinct in ten years.
"While the Species Survival Plan target is to have 150 Sumatran tigers in captivity, there are currently only 59," notes Toronto Zoo Acting Curator of Mammals Maria Franke. "In addition, not many cubs have been born recently in the captive population. That makes our babies especially valuable at this stage." The cubs, says Maria, are doing great: "Brytne's been a good, relaxed mother and the cubs are already eating solid food."
The smallest and darkest of the tigers, Sumatran tigers are native to the tropical rainforests of the Island of Sumatra. Their gestation period is approximately 103 days. At birth, the cubs weigh about 3 pounds each. The cubs will nurse for about six months and are independent by the age of 2 years. In the wild, these tigers live about 15 years, with life expectancy generally longer in zoos.
Improvements to the Sumatran Tiger Exhibit, featuring an expanded exercise yard, new den, and enlarged maternity area, each designed to stimulate breeding behavior, were made possible by AGF Funds Inc., a long-time supporter of the Zoo. AGF also supports the Reproductive Physiology Program, which engages in vital research to save species at risk. In addition to donating the cubs' mother, Brytne, in 1999, AGF has donated its right to name one of the cubs back to the Toronto Zoo for the "Naming" fundraising initiative.
The new tiger treasures are on display in the AGF Sumatran Tiger Exhibit, adjacent to the IndoMalaya Pavilion.
Starting on October, 26, 2003, the Toronto Zoo will be auctioning off the "naming of the cubs" and loads of other exciting Zoo experiences and collectibles on eBay.ca. Simply go to www.torontozoo.com for details. Name a cub after yourself, after a loved one, or even after your company. All money raised from these auctions will go to the Toronto Zoo Foundation which supports vital research and conservation programs for endangered species including the Sumatran tiger.