2014_05_20 - tiger cubOn May 20th in the early morning, Sumatran tiger Sari, aged 7.5 years, gave birth to her first cub. The cub is a great success for Sumatran tiger conservation, as these tigers are critically endangered with less than an estimated 500 in the wild. During the next few weeks, the cub will open his eyes and become more mobile and potentially even start to explore the den.

The birth is a result of the recommendation from the Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP) that Sari mate with 7.5 year old Emerson. Jackson Zoo visitors may remember when Emerson lived with his two brothers, Taymor and Kipling until 2013 when Kipling and Taymor moved as recommended by the SSP. Kipling and Taymor are also fathers at their respective zoos.

“At the Jackson Zoo, we have a responsibility to the species in our care to conserve these amazing animals through captive breeding to preserve them from the threat of extinction in the wild. This birth is a major step towards protecting this species so that generations from now, the Sumatran tiger will remain,” said zoo director Beth Poff.

The cub will remain in the den with his mother for roughly three months before they will be ready to venture out into public view. “We have cameras in the den and so we are able to monitor mom and cub without needing to disturb either,” stated Deputy Director Dave Wetzel. He added, “Right now, Sari is doing an excellent job as a first time mother. She is nursing and grooming the cub and being a great mom.”


Sumatran tigers are found on the island of Sumatra, where there are estimated to be fewer than 500 individuals. The species is threatened by habitat loss due to the expansion of oil palm plantations. Oil palm plantations also bring more human-tiger conflicts, which usually result in tiger death. Sumatran tigers are the smallest subspecies of tiger weighing between 150-300lbs. Their main diet consists of deer, cattle, boar, and tapir. The median life expectancy is 16-19 years. People can help the Sumatran tiger by supporting organizations such as the Tiger Conservation Campaign, that research and protect the tiger. The Tiger Conservation Campaign is one of four conservation projects that the Jackson Zoo works with.

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