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11 August 2010, 13:03 | Updated: 12 August 2010, 09:33
A tiny duo of Siberian tiger cubs have been seen for the first time since being born at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent. The two female cubs were born to parents Tugar and Ingrid on 27th of June.
At six weeks old the cubs are just beginning to take their first brave steps out from the safety of their birthing shed and into the outside world.
Head Big Cat Keeper Rich Barnes, who has worked with the tigers for 7 years, says
‘We were fairly confident that Ingrid was pregnant. After witnessing her mating she began to put on weight and she became calmer and more lethargic. After a gestation period of about 3 months Ingrid retired alone to her shed for a short time, and sure enough, when we checked on her, we spotted the two cubs’
‘We are all really chuffed with the cubs’ arrival and although we have not seen much of them yet we are looking forward to learning their individual characters as the weeks progress. Ingrid has proven herself as a good mum in the past and we are really pleased with how she and the new arrivals are doing. The cubs are getting more confident by the day
Keeper Rich Barnes commented:
Siberian tigers are sadly endangered and it is estimated that less than 500 remain in the wild today. They are under threat from poaching and loss of prey species.
The cubs’ father Tugar (or ‘Tug’) was hand raised by his keepers and is a true gentle giant, weighing approximately 33 stone. He is part of an international breeding program to save this endangered species. Tugar's mate arrived in 2005 and is called Ingrid Alexandra after the Princess of Norway. The pair’s last two cubs, females called Sinda and Bira, are now at Knowsley Safari Park.
This birth brings the numbers of Siberian tigers in The Aspinall Foundation’s care up to 9, with 4 at Port Lympne and 5 at Howletts.
Photo taken by Dave Rolfe