San Diego Zoo Receives Tiger Cubs

San Diego Zoo

Two adorable male tiger cubs are are now available for visitors to see at Escondido's San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The cubs, who have not yet been named, are from different species of tiger and were put together to give each other company.

One cub is an endangered Bengal tiger rescued from smugglers. The Bengal cub is only three months old and was discovered in August by border officials when the truck containing him was stopped at a border crossing near Mesa Otay. An 18-year-old from Perris, California has been charged with attempting to smuggle the cub into the United States. The cub was rescued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and loaned to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for proper care.

The zoo also received a rare Sumatran tiger cub in September. The cub, born on July 11, was one of three Sumatran tigers living in Washington D.C. at Smithsonian's National Zoo. Zoo employees spotted his mother growling and biting him and decided that the pair would never properly bond. They then shipped the helpless cub across the country to San Diego Zoo Safari Park for his safety. The cubs are housed together in Safari Park's nursery where they are fed nutritious formula to keep them healthy. Currently, zoo officials say they are gradually introducing more ground beef into their diet.

The cubs will soon be ensconced permanently in the park's Tiger Trail exhibit. For now, staff are rotating them between the nursery and the natural-style exhibit to accustom them to their new home. Presently, the cubs are the same size and weigh only 32 pounds. However, zoo employees say that the Bengal cub could eventually grow into an adult that weighs more than 700 pounds. In contrast, average adult male Sumatran tigers typically weigh between 220 to 310 pounds. The Sumatran tiger is listed as a critically endangered species. Experts believe that only about 400 Sumatran tigers are still living in the wild, a steep decline from an estimated population of 1,000 in 1978.

The cubs are on exhibit every day from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The park website also offers an online tiger cam where those unable to make the trip to Escondido can watch the cubs sleep and play.