Two Sumatran tiger cubs have been born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C.
The Zoo’s female Sumatran tiger, Damai, gave birth to two cubs Monday, Aug. 5. The cubs appear healthy, and keepers have observed Damai grooming and nursing them. The Great Cats team is celebrating the conservation victory.
“It’s taken more than two years of perseverance getting to know Damai and Kavi and letting them get to know each other so that we could reach this celebratory moment,” said Craig Saffoe. “All I can do is smile because the team has realized our goal of producing critically endangered tiger cubs. Damai came to us as a young tiger herself, so it’s really special to see her become a great mom.”
Keepers and veterinarians began monitoring Damai closely in June after she began gaining weight and exhibiting behaviors that indicated she could be pregnant. Staff trained Damai to participate in ultrasound procedures, which allowed them to confirm her pregnancy June 21. Keepers prepared for the arrival of cubs after Damai became restless and began showing signs that she would soon give birth. This is Damai’s first litter of cubs, sired by the Zoo’s 12-year-old male tiger, Kavi. The two bred several times from December 2012 through mid-April of this year.
Keepers are remotely monitoring Damai so she can have time to bond with her cubs. The cubs will not be on exhibit for several months until they have completed a series of health exams and received all necessary vaccinations. Damai and the cubs will go outside on exhibit together once the Great Cats team determines they have acclimated to the yards. Kavi will be on exhibit as usual.