1. ITV Report

Rare twin Amur tiger cubs born at Banham Zoo

Female Amur tigress, Sveta and her two cubs Photo: Banham Zoo

Staff at Banham Zoo in Norfolk are celebrating the arrival of some very cute twin tiger cubs.

Banham Zoo’s female Amur tigress, Sveta, certainly made her keepers wait longer than expected for their latest arrivals when she gave birth recently.

Banham Zoo’s female Amur tigress, Sveta asleep with one of her cubs Credit: Banham Zoo

Keepers had expected Sveta to give birth six days earlier and had been monitoring CCTV camera’s day and night for signs that she might be ready to give birth.

The cubs finally arrived during the morning of June 14 and her keepers were able to watch the birth via the live camera link. Well in advance of the birth, the tiger resistant CCTV cameras had been installed inside the area where Sveta was expected to give birth.

CCTV cameras monitor the cubs progress Credit: Banham Zoo

The twins have continued to make excellent progress and an external monitor has been installed so visitors at the zoo can see their without any intrusion to Sveta and her offspring.

The new cubs are very important additions to the European captive breeding programme for Amur tigers. The zoo’s male, Kuzma, who was born at Banham in 2008, was recently ranked as one of the most important males within the breeding programme. His genes are poorly represented within the captive population so breeding him was considered a high priority. His mate, Sveta, arrived from Lisbon Zoo, Portugal in 2011 and this is their first successful litter together.

The tiger cubs have not been named yet as it's still too early to know what sex they are Credit: Banham Zoo

Amur Tigers are listed as an endangered species by IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). Recent information indicates that there are less than 400 animals left in the wild; captive breeding could be a critical factor in the future survival of the world’s largest cat.

Amur Tigers are listed as an endangered species by International Union for the Conservation of Nature Credit: PA Still

FACT FILE:

  • Amur Tiger (also known as the Siberian tiger).
  • Scientific name: Panthera tigris altaica.
  • Largest Amur tiger was 3 metres long and weighing 300kgs.
  • They can eat up to 40 kg meat (equivalent to 400 ¼ lb burgers) in one sitting!
  • They prey upon wild boar and deer, and as strong swimmers will also eat fish and turtles!
  • Mostly native to Russia, with a few in China and North Korea, habitats are tundra, humid forests and bush-covered mountains.
  • They live comfortably in temperatures as low as -30°C - very long fur.

THREATS:

  • Very low genetic diversity in the population due to a massive population dip in the 1930s when the wild population dropped to as low as 30-40 animals.
  • More valuable dead than alive due to the demand from the oriental medicine market.
  • Poaching and habitat reduction.
  • Three of the nine original tiger subspecies are now extinct.