Monday, April 14, 2008

Tiger Cubs Make Public Appearance

Three new-born tiger cubs at San Francisco zoo are making their first public appearances to the excitement of visitors.

Mum Leanne has started to carry the cubs, all boys, outside.

We took pics and video1 : video2 (click to see) this afternoon of one of the Sumatran tiger cubs exploring his grassy terrain. Already he was quite sure-footed for a cub almost six-weeks-old. But like any watchful mum, Leanne sometimes followed after him, picked him up gently in her mouth and brought him back to the centre of the enclosure. She laid him down and gave him a few motherly licks, but it wasn't long before he was off again! He was even heard practicing a little roar!

The cubs were first spotted outside on Saturday, two days ago.

'They are too little to be able to maneouvre around the exhibit themselves. But with the nice weather she's (Leanne) brought them out for a little sunshine and fresh air,' said Curator Ingrid.

'She is bringing them all out one at a time. She takes one back to the bedroom and brings out another.'

A few journalists were given a photo-opportunity of the three cubs last month but the zoo had no planned date for the cubs' appearances before the general public.

'We move at the animals' comfort level,' Ingrid said.

Three cubs are considered to be a large first litter, the average one being of two cubs, she explained. Also tigers are not usually that good at caring for their offspring first-time round as like any new mums they've never done it before.

But Leanne has surpassed expectations both in size of litter and by being an 'excellent mum.'

'She has surprised us all with three healthy cubs that she has raised perfectly,' Ingrid said.

The cubs have not yet been named and that honour is likely to fall to zoo patrons.

'Did you hear that noise?' Ingrid said suddenly as we stood there chatting. 'It's called a chuff, a tiger greeting.' A sound that tigers make when they are happy.

There is no doubt that Leanne is one chuffed tiger!

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