The London Zoo has announced the birth of a new tiger cub, the first in 17 years for the zoo.
Sumatran tiger mom, Melati, gave birth at 9:22 pm on Sunday Sept. 22, to a single cub after 105 days of zoo secrecy about her pregnancy. The birth of the cub lasted only 6 minutes for the first-time mom.
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Melati and the cub's father, Jae Jae, met in March at the opening of the zoo's new Tiger Territory, which was constructed to encourage breeding among this "critically endangered and declining sub-species," reported the zoo.
Melati's father, Hari, was the last cub born at the London Zoo.
Melati and Jae Jae were introduced together specifically for their genetic diversity. Around 500 Sumatran tigers are known to exist in the wild, and all on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Zoo keepers found the pairing an opposites-attract sort of match. Five-year-old, "Jae Jae is a big ball of fun – he doesn't do subtle. He goes bounding up to Melati like a little kitten but she's more of a cautious cat." Their successful breeding is big news for the zoo as well as the species and follows the birth of two cubs at the National Zoo.
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Zookeeper Paul Kybett said:
We are simply over-the-moon about the birth of the tiger cub; it's a momentous occasion for everyone at ZSL London Zoo and a real cause for celebration. We were nervous about the pregnancy, as it was Melati's first cub and we didn't know how she'd react. When it came to her due date, we were all watching our monitors with bated breath. The actual birth happened very quickly and Melati's maternal instincts kicked in immediately, as she started licking the cub all over and it soon began wriggling around – we couldn't have asked for a smoother birth! It's still very early days, so we're leaving Melati alone to take care of her adorable baby, and our cameras allow us to watch them both from a distance – so far she's proving to be a doting mum.
http://www.youtube.com/embed/-UlfZ3nwzDQ Video via robknows100 on Youtube.com; and image via ZSL London Zoo video screengrab.