Tulsa Zoo announces birth of endangered Malayan tiger cub

TULSA - The Tulsa Zoo announced Wednesday the birth of an endangered Malayan tiger cub.

Weighing in at 2.6 pounds, which is healthy for a newborn tiger, Berani was born to first time mother, Jin and father, Gahara, Aug. 26.

Now at 10.5 pounds, zoo staff say Berani grows daily.

In the first 24 hours after the cub's birth, Jin cared for Berani but lost interest, which isn't unusual for a first-time mother tigress.

When Jin left the nest box and didn't return for several hours, veterinary staff examined Berani, and based on the exam and blood work, the decision was made to remove him from his mother at 36 hours of age and he is subsequently being hand-reared.

While Berani is thriving, zoo officials say he does not have a sibling with which to play and learn to be a tiger.

"It is important, whenever possible, for an animal like Berani to be raised with members of his own species," said Dr. Kay Backues, Tulsa Zoo senior staff veterinarian.

To help Berani develop normal socializing skills, the young tiger cub will be transferred to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacomo, Wash., where a single male Sumatran tiger cub, Dumai, was born four days before Berani.

Dumai was not receiving adequate nutrition from his mother so he is also being hand-reared.

"With another tiger playmate of similar age, he will grow up to be better socialized and behave in an appropriate way with humans and tigers," said Backues. "His future playmate and he will both benefit from the exercise and mental stimulation they will give each other and they will both be more likely to become successful adults, exhibit normal behaviors, act appropriately with other tigers and also have an increased chance of being successful breeders. The sooner we get the two animals together, the better for their growth and development."

Berani and his new brother, Dumai, will now be raised in the cub nursery at the Point Defiance Zoo, which has more holding space in its new exhibit, Cats of the Canopy, than the Tulsa Zoo.

Berani will leave the Tulsa Zoo Oct. 10. An anonymous zoo supporter donated the use of a private jet to transport him to his new home.

Dr. Jen Kilburn, Tulsa Zoo associate veterinarian, will accompany Berani on his journey.

"It will be hard to send him away," said Backues. "He's been a joy and a lot of fun to raise, but we always prefer animals to be raised with their own kind. Like all surrogate parents, we want the best for him and that is to grow up as a tiger and live a long and healthy life."

Currently, there fewer than 500 Malayan tigers left in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching and only 55 in Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoos in North America, making this birth a success for not only the Tulsa Zoo, but also for diminishing tiger populations around the world.

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