WATCH: Birth of critically endangered tiger cub is first in safari park's history
A critically endangered tiger cub has been born at West Midland Safari Park, the first ever to be born in the park's 50-year history.
The stripy youngster arrived at 2:36am on July 4, to mum, 11-year-old Dourga, and dad, nine-year-old Nakal, who were only introduced to each other in August last year.
Dourga arrived at the Park, after being identified as a compatible match for Nakal, hoping that the couple would play an important role in protecting their species from extinction.
The birth is a milestone moment, as it’s the first Sumatran tiger cub to be born at the safari park and is fantastic news for conservation efforts, as Sumatran tigers are listed as ‘critically endangered’, with less than 400 individuals remaining in the wild.
And now, the cat’s out the bag as keepers have announced the birth by releasing CCTV footage of the beautiful cub being born.
Head keeper of carnivores, Chris Hodgkins, said: “We are delighted to announce that we have welcomed a new addition at Tiger Tropics.
"Back in March, keepers observed Nakal and Dourga mating and following a gestation period of three and a half months, Dourga successfully gave birth to a cub in the early hours of the morning on July 4.
"The keepers and I are over the moon, as not only has it been nearly 16 years since we have had tigers born at the Park, but this is the very first Sumatran tiger cub to be born here in our 50-year history.
"Dourga arrived in August 2022 to join Nakal, who has been with us since 2016, and were introduced in our brand-new Tiger Tropics habitat, where they had a new house and outdoor habitat.
"They settled in really well and developed a strong bond quickly, so this really is a case of new house, new baby!”
He continued: “Sumatran tigers are critically endangered – the most threatened an animal can be. We hope that this birth not only goes some way towards the conservation of the species, but also raises awareness of the plight of wild tigers and the threats they face.”
All tigers in the wild face an uncertain future, due to habitat loss, conflict with humans and poaching for the illegal trade in tiger body parts.
It is estimated that there may be fewer than 4,000 tigers left in the wild and with only 400 of those being Sumatran tigers, that makes them the most endangered of the subspecies.
The Sumatran tigers at the Safari Park are part of an EEP (Eaza Ex-Situ Programme), which is a collaborative breeding programme between European zoos, aiming to conserve endangered species.
The new cub is Dourga’s third baby, having previously birthed two others at her previous home, Fota Wildlife Park, but this is the first time Nakal has become a father.
The week-old cub has not yet been named, but keepers will find out the sex at an eight-week health check and then a name will be chosen beginning with the letter ‘L’, as all animals born at the Park in 2023, have names beginning with this letter.
Keepers are unsure as to when guests will be able to see the new arrival, as it is currently in an off-show area, under the protective eye of its mother, but the safari park hopes to post regular updates on its social media pages.
Nakal can be seen on foot in Tiger Tropics, and tigers Ben, Buster and Hujan can be seen on the safari drive-through.
Further information about West Midland Safari Park is available from the Park’s website wmsp.co.uk or by telephone 01299 402114.
Find out more on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page: facebook.com/WestMidSafari.