Rare Tiger Cub at Washington Zoo
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A 7-month-old rare Sumatran tiger rolled on his back and batted a toy between his paws as cameras captured his outdoor debut at the National Zoo Wednesday.
Berani romped around the four-tier pen, hugged a tree and tried without success to jump on his mother’s back. Then he spotted a burlap bag zookeepers had hidden amid some bamboo, and spent much of the morning dragging around the bag filled with hay and rosemary.
Senior zoo curator Dr. John Seidensticker said that in the wild, the cub would probably do the same thing with a hide from one of his mother’s kills.
This subspecies of tiger originated on one of the larger islands of Indonesia. ``Berani means ‘bold’ or ‘brave’ and he lives up to it,″ Seidensticker said.
Zoo visitors got their first glimpse of Berani in December through a glass enclosure.
The cub, born Sept. 18, is old enough _ and temperatures are now warm enough _ for him to venture outside. Zoo officials plan to have him outside between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. every day at the Great Cats Exhibit.
Sumatran tigers are smaller than regular species and nearly extinct. Just 750 survive, including 250 in zoos. Zoo births are rare.
Berani’s mother was born at the National Zoo in 1993 and his father was born at the San Antonio Zoo in 1990.
Conservation organizations are working with the Indonesian government to help preserve forests and other habitats, which are threatened by growth of the human population in one of the world’s most populous countries.
``These guys are top carnivores and carnivores need space,″ Seidensticker said. Together, Berani and his mother eat 10 to 12 pounds of horse meat a day.
Population managers keep track of the lineage of the Sumatran tigers living in captivity and match them to increase genetic diversity.
When Berani is 2 years old he will be sent to another zoo. His half brother, Eric, now 3, is scheduled to be sent next month from the National Zoo to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Fla.
On the Net:
National Zoo: http://www.nationalzoo.si.edu