Zoo Miami has welcomed a new bouncing baby boy, a 3-pound male Sumatran tiger.
The yet-unnamed cub is the first Sumatran tiger born at the zoo, to parents Leeloo of the Oklahoma City Zoo and Berani of the San Francisco Zoo. He’s only the fourth Sumatran tiger born in the U.S. so far this year.
This was Leeloo’s first pregnancy, so zoo staff members took special care of the 4-year-old tiger mom. Since the Nov. 14 birth, she has only been separated from her offspring briefly while Zoo Miami workers figured out the sex, weight and health of the cub. The zoo announced the birth on Monday.
The zoo is keeping a wide berth from mama and baby for the next few weeks so they can form a strong bond. To avoid contact, observations of the pair in their den are made from closed-circuit TV. The steps are necessary because the stress of first-time motherhood can cause overwrought tiger moms to abandon — or kill — their cubs if they feel disturbed.
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The male cub is a rare win for the Sumatran tiger as a species. He joins the rank of only 70 Sumatran tigers in U.S. zoos, which forms a sizable chunk of the total population. Researchers believe there are fewer than 500 Sumatran tigers in the wild, which for the tigers, means forested areas on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The growth of palm oil plantations and poaching are draining the tiny population of big cats, the smallest subspecies of tiger. Males reach around 300 pounds, while females hover around 200 pounds.
The zoo welcomed a baby giraffe and Somali wild ass earlier this year. Princess Buttercup was the 47th giraffe birth in the zoo’s history, and Lisha was the fifth Somali wild ass foal.
Two 19-year-old animals were also euthanized this year. Danda-Loo was the oldest koala in North America and Europe at the time of her death. Nieve the jaguar had similarly aged past her average lifespan, and her death two months after Danda-Loo marked the end of an era for some of the zoo’s oldest inhabitants.