22 January 2015

The tigers were born to eight-year-old Sumatran tigress Kirana on Jan 2 after a 105-day pregnancy.

Curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, Tim Rowlands, said:

We’re thrilled to kick off 2015 with these special arrivals. These tiny triplets who, in June, will move to a brand new home in our Islands zone, are now part of a safety-net against the population in the wild becoming extinct. That to me is incredibly humbling.

The sexes of the cubs will not be known for some time and zoo staff are continuing to keep a close eye on the family.

Mr Rowlands added:

We had Kirana’s due date down as Friday Jan 2 and, true to what we thought, she had her cubs in the early hours of that morning. We were first alerted to them when we heard tiny squeaks coming from their den. Initially we weren’t sure of how many she had had – we just kept seeing flashes of tiny balls of fluff – but we’ve since spotted that there are three.

It’s still early days but Kirana is an experienced mum and she’s keeping her cubs very well protected. She’s doing everything we would hope at this stage.

Sumatran tigers are one of the rarest big cat species in the world. That’s what makes our new tiger trio so incredibly special – they’re a rare boost to an animal that’s critically endangered.

Sumatran tigers are found only on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra. They are the smallest of all tigers and also have the narrowest stripes.

With numbers in the wild believed to be as few as just 300-400, Sumatran tigers are classed by conservationists as critically endangered. They are targeted by poachers who use their body parts as traditional medicine and much of their jungle habitat has been destroyed. The arrival of this latest trio of cubs is therefore vital to the ongoing survival of the species and the back-up population found in zoos.

Sumatran tiger facts

  • The trio of cubs at Chester Zoo were born on Jan 2, 2015
  • Mum Kirana is eight-years-old
  • Dad Fabi is seven
  • Kirana and Fabi’s last cubs, Kasih and Nuri, are also at Chester Zoo
  • Sumatran tigers are found in patches of forest on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia
  • The species is classed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered in the wild. They are faced with a high threat of extinction due to widespread habitat loss and poaching for their body parts which are used in traditional medicine
  • Sumatran tigers are the smallest of all tiger species
  • Sumatran tigers are narrower and closer together than those of all other tiger species
  • Chester Zoo’s Sumatran tigers are part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme. The zoo works closely with other zoos on conservation breeding projects to try and ensure the ongoing survival of the species
  • In June 2015, the zoo’s tigers will move to a brand new exhibit when Islands, the biggest development in UK zoo history, opens. Islands will recreate habitats from Panay, Papua, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi and showcase species such as Sumatran orangutans, cassowary and Sunda gharial crocodiles, as well as Sumatran tigers. Unlike anything else in the UK, it will show animals in an even more naturalistic setting than ever before, which the zoo hopes will see visitors make more of an emotional connection with them. If people care about a species they’re more likely to help save them
  • Find our more: www.chesterzoo.org/islands