An extremely rare litter of five Siberian tiger cubs -- the equivalent of 1% of the world's population of the endangered species -- was born at New Jersey's Six Flags Wild Safari last month, the amusement park and zoo said in a statement on Thursday.
Siberian tiger Nadya delivered the unusual litter on May 2, Six Flags says. Most tiger births are only two to four cubs so hers is notable for its size as well as the species.
At their first three-week checkup, Six Flags vets noted one of the female cubs weighed 2.5 pounds, the typical birth weight. The other four cubs -- three females and a male -- tipped the scales at 6 pounds. The team brought the tiniest cub to the clinic, where she stayed in an incubator with around-the-clock bottle feedings until she began to thrive.
"Without human intervention, she would not have survived," said Six Flags Veterinarian Dr. Ken Keiffer, adding the grim survival rate of wild tigers is just 50%.
Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, are critically endangered with an estimated wild population of only 500 due to poaching, hunting and habitat loss, Six Flags says.
As the largest cats in the world, they average 11 feet long with a three-foot tail. Despite originating from snowy regions such as Russia, China and North Korea where a white coat may help them blend in with their surroundings, they bear a bold orange and black coat with a unique stripe pattern. They are powerful, solitary carnivores.
Six Flags Wild Safari doubled its Siberian tiger population with this most recent birth. Anyone interested in visiting Nadya and four of her cubs in the safari’s Tigris Asiana section of the Drive-Thru Adventure in the coming weeks can get information here.
"Nadya’s cubs help ensure the survival of this precious species for at least two more decades," Keiffer said. “At Six Flags, we aim to teach our guests about conservation, and we hope it inspires them to help preserve these and other amazing animals here on Earth."