This male Sumatran tiger cub was born at the Sacramento Zoo on March 3, 2013. Its species is critically endangered.
Credit: Sacramento Zoo
What weighs 3 pounds, has its eyes closed and is striped?
A newborn male Sumatran tiger cub, born at the Sacramento Zoo on March 3, stands to be a boon for the critically endangered species.
The as-yet-unnamed cub was born to mom Bahagia at 2:55 a.m. and weighed 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms), a good size for a Sumatran tiger cub, which are usually only 2 pounds at birth. Both mother and baby tiger are in good health, the zoo noted in a release.
Tiger cubs are born with their eyes closed and rely completely on their mothers, the release said. This cub and Bahagia are being kept inside their den inside their den, away from the public, while the cub grows a bit stronger and bigger. The zoo said it expects mother and cub to be on display by late May or early June.
A camera in the den is allowing zookeepers to keep tabs on mom and baby.
Tigers worldwide are in trouble, with their numbers plummeting 95 percent over the last century and the big cats occupying just 40 percent of their former territory. Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the tiger subspecies and are found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Fewer than 500 Sumatran tigers are thought to exist in the wild and about 200 live in zoos, according to the release.
The cub was born as part of the Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan® (SSP), coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Such plans are designed to maintain genetic diversity in an endangered species
The tiger cub's father, Castro, was diagnosed with lymphoma in February. He and Bahagia have had five offspring.