Malayan tiger cubs debut at Bronx Zoo

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Malayan tiger cubs born at the Bronx Zoo are on display at the Tiger Mountain exhibit. (WCS/Julie Larsen Maher)

Two Malayan tiger cubs born at the Bronx Zoo in January have made their public debut at the Tiger Mountain exhibit, Wildlife Conservation Society said.

The female cubs are named Nadia and Azul. Zoo keepers had to bottle-feed the cubs until they were fully weaned because their mother didn't provide for them in the days after they were born.

"The majority of animals born at the Bronx Zoo are raised by their parents," Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny said. "But in certain cases, the [moms] need help raising offspring. Our keepers did a wonderful job raising the Malayan tiger cubs through the critical first few months of their lives. As the cubs mature, they are learning 'how to be tigers' and following their instincts and developing the skills and behavior of adult tigers. The transition process form cub to young adult is amazing to witness."   

The cubs will be on exhibit at Tiger Mountain for a few hours each day, according to the WCS. As the tigers get more accustomed to the habitat, zoo keepers will increase the time.

"These two cubs are ambassadors for their species," Breheny said. "With an estimated 250 Malayan tigers remaining in the wild and fewer than 70 in accredited North American zoos, these cubs give us an excellent opportunity to introduce our visitors to the treats Malayan tigers face in the wild and what the Bronx Zoo and WCS is doing to help guarantee the survival of the species."

International Union for the Conservation of Nature classified tigers as "Endangered." But IUCN classifies the Malayan tiger subspecies as "Critically Endangered" because an estimated 250 remain in the wild. They are native to the Malayan peninsula. Poaching, prey depletion, and habitat loss threatens their existence.

The Wildlife Conservation Society's mission is to save "wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature," according to its website.

In addition to the Bronx Zoo, its flagship property, WCS runs the Prospect Park Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the Queens Zoo, and the Central Park Zoo. California sea lions are on display at all five parks.