Zoo Miami announces birth of endangered Sumatran tiger

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Zoo Miami announces birth of endangered Sumatran tiger
The new Sumatran tiger cub is examined by Elle Bell, Tiger Keeper, (left) and Dr. Marisa Bezjian, associate zoo veterinarian.

Zoo Miami recently announced the birth of a critically endangered Sumatran tiger.

The single female cub was born on Jan. 5, and has been in seclusion with her mother since that time. This is the second birth for the 9-year-old female named “Leeloo.” She is a particularly nervous and protective mother so extra precautions have been taken to isolate her and her cub to reduce external stress.

Estimated to weigh approximately three pounds at birth, the cub has been growing rapidly and weighed 14.3 pounds at her first official neonatal exam. That exam wasn’t done until Mar. 3 to allow sufficient time for mother and cub to develop a strong bond without any significant interruption.

During the exam, the cub received her first set of vaccines as well as a microchip for identification. In addition, a fecal sample was collected and a general examination of the ears, eyes and mouth was performed.

This is the second cub for Leeloo and Zoo Miami and believed to be the only Sumatran tiger born in the United States since 2019. There are only 72 Sumatran tigers living in U.S. zoos.

Leeloo was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo in July 2011 and arrived at Zoo Miami in December 2013. The 12-year-old father, named “Berani,” was born at the San Francisco Zoo and arrived at Zoo Miami in August 2013.

There are believed to be less than 500 Sumatran tigers left in the wild where they are found in forested areas on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Their biggest threats are poaching and habitat loss to palm oil plantations. They are the smallest subspecies of tiger with males reaching up to 300 pounds and females closer to 200 pounds.

Though the cub has made it through the most critical time of her young life and she appears to be developing well, she will remain in seclusion with her mother for an as of yet undetermined amount of time before making her public debut to ensure they are well established.

There will be an official naming contest for this cub as part of a fundraising effort in support of the Species Survival Plan’s “Tiger Conservation Campaign.” This campaign specifically supports anti-poaching efforts of the Malayan tiger and human-tiger conflict mitigation on the island of Sumatra. The contest began on Mar. 29 at which time details were made available on the zoo’s Facebook page and web page at www.zoomiami.org. The contest will conclude on May.

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