ESCONDIDO (CNS) - The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Thursday announced the birth of two Sumatran tiger cubs -- the first of the critically endangered species to be born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's Tull Family Tiger Trail habitat in seven years.
The cubs, a female and male, were born July 12 to first-time mother Diana, with the announcement coming in time for Saturday's Global Tiger Day.
Wildlife care specialists are closely monitoring Diana and her cubs, and they report that Diana is an extremely attentive and gentle mother, according to the alliance, which said the cubs appear strong and are nursing frequently.
"We are elated about the birth of these tiger cubs," said Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. "It has been years since we've had cubs at Tiger Trail, and we can't wait to share them with the community."
There are an estimated 400 to 600 Sumatran tigers remaining on Earth, according to the zoo. They are listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
"These births are so important to the conservation of this species," Peterson said. "Our hope is these cubs will provide an opportunity for our guests to gain a greater appreciation for tigers and the important need to conserve them in their native habitats."
Diana and her cubs will remain in her den for several weeks.
"This window of time is crucial, as it allows the youngsters to bond with and learn from their mother," zoo biologists said. "When Diana is ready, she will bring her cubs out of the den."
Wildlife care specialists estimate that will happen when the cubs are 8 to 10 weeks old.
According to the zoo, tigers face many challenges, including loss of habitat, challenges to human-wildlife coexistence and poaching. People can help protect tigers by avoiding products made with non-sustainable palm oil, an industry that harms tiger habitats; and by refusing to purchase items made from endangered wildlife.
Global Tiger Day is celebrated worldwide on July 29 to raise support for tiger conservation.
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