He is the 26th Sumatran tiger to be born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, but the first to be hand-raised there in more than three decades.
The male cub, which was born Sept. 14 to first-time parents Teddy and Joanne, is now in the care of zookeepers, the facility recently announced. The cub’s mother was caring for the little tyke soon after birth, but when the cub started losing weight, zookeepers made the “difficult decision” to intervene.
The facility hasn’t hand-reared a cub since 1984. The cub is now being cared for around the clock. He’s being bottle fed seven times a day with a specially designed formula made from goat milk.
“We’re very happy with our little cub’s progress; he took to the bottle and started nursing right away,” Lissa McCaffree, the zoo’s lead mammal keeper, said in a statement. “He’s been gaining weight very consistently each day, and last night (Sept. 22) he reached a milestone—he opened his eyes for the first time.”
The cub is up to 3.36 pounds. He’s walking around his nursery. And, he’s also learning key tiger vocalizations: meowing, grunting and excited chuffing.
The Safari Park now houses seven Sumatran tigers. There are perhaps 350 Sumatran tigers in the wild, as their population has been wiped up by habitat loss and poaching. Experts say at at this rate the species could be extinct in Sumatra by 2020.