Three exceptionally cute tiger cubs roared before the public for the first time as they debuted at the Bronx Zoo Wednesday.
The Amur cubs -- two female, one male -- were born to mother Katharina and father Sasha. Katharina, now 13, had her most recent litter in May 2010, but this litter is the first for 15-year-old Sasha.
At birth, the cubs each weighed about two and a half to three pounds. Now they weigh nearly 50 pounds. The three cubs will be on exhibit at Tiger Mountain with their mother intermittently for the first few weeks as they get used to their surroundings.
Amur tigers are also known as Siberian tigers. They are found in the Russian Far East and northeastern China. Male Amur tigers are the world’s largest cats and can grow to weigh 650 pounds.
The tigers were bred by recommendation of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic and demographic stability of the tiger population in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure its long-term viability of the species.
In the last 100 years, the global wild tiger population has plummeted 97 percent to just 3,200, 1,000 of which are breeding females. Once found in 30 countries across Asia, wild tigers are now found in scattered fragments across 10 countries.
"The birth of a rare species like Amur tigers is always an exciting time at the Bronx Zoo,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Bronx Zoo Director."The cubs will play a vital role as representatives for their wild relatives – inspiring zoo visitors to learn more about the threats these majestic animals face in the wild and what we can do to protect them."