11:39 30 December 2021
A critically endangered Sumatran tiger cub entered the world at the London Zoo just in time for Christmas.
Ten-year-old mother Gaysha gave birth to the baby at 02.19 on Sunday 12 December.
In footage recorded by Zoo’s hidden ‘cubcam’, Gaysha can be seen cleaning and feeding the rare newborn just hours after birth. Then the determined young man takes his first wobbly steps on the soft straw in their cave behind the scenes.
ZSL London Zoo tiger keeper Lucy Reed said: “We knew Gaysha was approaching full term as we had seen her belly grow fast over the previous few weeks, so we made her a special young den in anticipation and filled it with soft straw for extra comfort – that was where she chose to give birth. ”
The young will most likely remain hidden in the family’s warm young cave until its first vaccinations – where veterinarians and animal keepers will also be able to determine the young’s sex.
One of an original litter of three, the kid’s two siblings unfortunately did not survive the birth.
Lucy added: “The fat little kid is doing really well in mom’s excellent care and is definitely taking after dad Asim in terms of size and strength.
“We have already seen some important milestones where the little one takes his first steps almost immediately and – recently – opens his eyes, which are always closed the first few days after birth.
“At the moment, while still keeping a close eye on the cubcam, we also take care not to disturb the family so that they can bond together – we look forward to getting to know the little one as it grows bigger and start exploring more of its surroundings. ”
Sumatran tigers are the rarest and smallest subspecies of tiger in the world, with the latest figures suggesting that there are only 300 left in the wild.
The zoo is now asking its members to come up with suggestions for the kid’s name in the coming days, which will then be selected by animal keepers before being voted on by a group of ZSL supporters.
While mother Gaysha is put inside with her baby, visitors to the zoo can still see ten-year-old father Asim hanging out in the Tiger Territory – and can also see exclusive cubcam footage in the exhibition.