Sumatran Tiger Cub Born at Sacramento Zoo

Sumatran tiger cub
This male Sumatran tiger cub was born at the Sacramento Zoo on March 3, 2013. Its species is critically endangered. (Image 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 Sumatran tiger cub born at the Sacramento Zoo on March 3, 2013 getting weighed. (Image credit: Sacramento Zoo)

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.

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Andrea Thompson
Live Science Contributor

Andrea Thompson is an associate editor at Scientific American, where she covers sustainability, energy and the environment. Prior to that, she was a senior writer covering climate science at Climate Central and a reporter and editor at Live Science, where she primarily covered Earth science and the environment. She holds a graduate degree in science health and environmental reporting from New York University, as well as a bachelor of science and and masters of science in atmospheric chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.