Two critically endangered but healthy Sumatran tiger cubs were born Nov. 20 at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

 

The male cubs were the second litter for mother Dorcas, 6 and father, Berani, 16, and were brothers of Kinleigh Rose, who was the first Sumatran tiger born at the zoo when she arrived in 2015, according to the zoo.

The birth of the cubs was monitored by zoo staff using a closed-circuit camera system. At their first medical exam Tuesday, veterinarian Yousuf Jafarey determined they each weighed 4.5 pounds, had no congenital health problems and were nursing well.

Also, mother Dorcas showed herself to be an adept parent.

“One of the biggest pleasures as the zoo’s tiger-management program evolves is watching the effect that it has on the wellness of our animals,” said Dan Dembiec, supervisor of mammals. “Dorcas started out as a skittish and shy tigress, but she is now a confident and skilled mother. She is a natural at providing her cubs with the necessary care to help them develop, and this is reflective of the care that she has received from the staff.”

The cubs will not be on public exhibit for several months, after a series of health examinations and vaccinations and continued bonding with their mother. Also, they must undergo a swim test before being allowed to explore their outdoor habitat in public viewing areas.

However, the public can watch a live video feed of their nest box in the tiger viewing building.

A donor bought “naming rights” for one of the cubs and has asked Tiger Academy students to come up with the name, said zoo spokeswoman JJ Vitale. Rights to select the name of the second cub will likely be snapped up quickly by another donor, she said.

The cubs’ birth was significant because the Jacksonville zoo’s tigers are part of a worldwide Sumatran tiger species management program, in which zoological facilities work to maintain a healthy population, according to the zoo. About 400 Sumatran tigers are in the wild.

Also, the cubs will help highlight efforts in Indonesia to protect Sumatran tigers and their prey. For three years, the Jacksonville zoo has supported an elite wildlife protection unit in Sumatra’s Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, one of the last of the tigers’ strongholds.

Beth Reese Cravey: (904) 359-4109