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And then there were three

Auckland City Council Media release

18 June 2008

And then there were three

Auckland Zoo has confirmed that female Sumatran tiger Molek is the proud mother of not two, but three tiger cubs, following keepers' discovery of a third cub early this afternoon.

Wanting to ensure Molek remains undisturbed, keepers have been careful to keep their distance from her. However, around 1pm carnivore keepers Sandra Rice observed a very relaxed looking Molek lying back, with one cub suckling from her, and two others cuddled into her.

The confirmation of a third cub follows last Thursday's (12 June) sighting of the first cub, and yesterday's discovery of a second cub.

"For a first-time mum with what we now know are triplets to care for, she's very in control and confident, and doing all the right things, including eating well to ensure she keeps her strength up," says keeper Sandra Rice.

"We thought yesterday was exciting, and a great outcome, with the discovery of a second cub. But finding out today that she has produced what appears to be three beautiful healthy cubs, we're all absolutely ecstatic," says elephant and carnivore section team leader, Andrew Coers.

"In light of the fact that there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers in the wild, and just 160 in captive (zoo) facilities, the birth of these cubs really is a huge deal, not just for New Zealand, but internationally.

"Through dad Oz's genes, they'll be contributing valuable new genetic bloodlines to the world's captive population. This is a great example of how zoos play a vital role in conserving species until such time as there are safe, protected areas of wild habitat for re-introduction," says Mr Coers.

Mum Molek will determine when the cubs will go on display in Visa Tiger Territory. This could possibly be up to six to eight weeks away. However, in the coming weeks people will be able to see both mum and cub via a cubcam (that links to their inside den) at the tiger exhibit. This footage will also be on the website.


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