Rare Sumatran Tiger Triplets Born At London Zoo

Michelle Ristuccia

The birth of rare Sumatran Tiger triplets has been documented by hidden cameras at ZSL London Zoo. The triplets were born Feb 3, 2014 to five year old Tigress Melati after a 106 day pregnancy. The cubs were born within an hour of each other, at 12:28am, 12:59am, and 1:18am. The video shows clips of the cubs nursing, crawling, and tumbling about. The tiger triplets visibly gain weight from the first clip to the last.

Zookeeper Teague Stubbington stated in the ZSL London Zoo press release, "We couldn't be more delighted with our new arrivals, and with how Melati is responding to her three cubs."

Melati lost her first cub six months ago when the cub drowned in a pond in the enclosure. Zoo Keepers are on high alert and have already drained the pond to protect the new cubs. The Sumatran Tigers are housed in a state-of-the-art 2,500sqm enclosure that was updated and expanded by London Zoo just last year, according to their March 2013 press release.

The Sumatran Tiger cubs are under 24-hour surveillance through the hidden cameras in their birth den. Stubbington continued, "We've even been able to observe key milestones like their eyes opening and their tentative first steps... we're starting to see their personalities develop. We've nicknamed one Trouble, as it's much bolder than the others – it was the first to start exploring its den and we've spotted it waking up its siblings when they fall asleep!"

Sumatran Tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) number less than 400 around the world and are listed as endangered by the World Wildlife Foundation. Despite increased conservation efforts in Indonesia, Sumatran tigers continue to decline due to loss of habitat and poaching on the island of Sumatra. Tiger parts and products remain in high demand in Asia and steep fines and jail time have failed to deter poaching.

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Sumatran Tigers are unique because they have lived for over a million years in genetic isolation on Sumatra, according to The Tiger Foundation. The fall of the Suharto regime in Sumatra has recently disrupted research and conservation, having caused researchers to flee the area. ZSL continues their efforts to preserve the subspecies in Sumatra through translocation, protection of the tigers' peat forest habitat, and detection of wildlife crime.

Meanwhile, Trouble and the other Sumatran Tiger triplets play comfortably in their den at the London Zoo, bringing hope to breeding efforts around the world.