Veterinary staff says first-time mom
is resting comfortably and nursing during this critical period
For the first time since 1956, the San Francisco Zoo is celebrating the birth of a Sumatran tiger cub, a critically endangered species.
According to the Zoo’s veterinary staff, Leanne began to show birthing activity on Thursday (March 6). On Friday morning, the Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff visually confirmed the presence of at least one tiger cub and Leanne nursing her newborn.
“We are very pleased with Leanne’s behavior,” said Jacqueline Jencek, DVM, chief of veterinary services at the San Francisco Zoo. “This is a very critical period for both mom and cub, but from our initial observations Leanne is very attentive and gentle.”
The Zoo’s veterinary staff is allowing every opportunity for maternal bonding to occur. Therefore, the staff is monitoring remotely via a video camera and baby monitors in order to not disrupt Leanne from bonding with her cub.
Media Note: No photos or video of the cub and mom are available. The newborn cub will not be on exhibit for several months while the infant gains strength and coordination. The cub’s father, George, can be seen at the Zoo’s Big Cat grotto exhibits.
Leanne was born at the Toronto Zoo and is on a breeding loan program from the San Antonio Zoo, while the cub’s father, George, was born at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha and is on loan from the Downtown Aquarium in Denver. Leanne’s arrival to the Zoo, along with her mate George, was for the purpose of producing needed genetic diversity to the Sumatran tiger population in zoos through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Tiger Species Survival Plan. There are 210 Sumatran tigers living in zoos around the world. The Zoo re-introduced the Sumatran tiger species to the Zoo population in 1992.
SUMATRAN TIGER CUBS
Following mating, the gestation period for tigers is about 100 days. The male tiger does not stay with the female after breeding, nor does he participate in raising the cubs. Litters can range anywhere from one to four cubs. Tiger cubs are born blind and weigh only two pounds. The mortality rate of Sumatran cubs in the wild and in captivity is between 30 and 40 percent, and is higher with first-time mothers.
The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is a subspecies of tigers found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The smallest of the remaining subspecies of Panthera tigris, the Sumatran tiger is particularly well-suited for life in the deep jungle. The wild population is estimated at between 400 and 500 animals, occurring predominantly in the islands’ national parks. Sumatran tigers are differentiated by their darker coat and wider stripes. The primary threats to tigers are the loss of habitat and poaching. Sumatran tigers can live from 15 to 25 years.
About the San Francisco Zoo
Encompassing 100 acres, the historic San Francisco Zoo is Northern California’s largest zoological park serving more than one million visitors annually. Located on the Great Highway between Skyline and Sloat Boulevards, across from the Pacific Ocean, the Zoo is open daily, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and its Web site is www.sfzoo.org