3 Jan 2013

The four new arrivals – who are all eight-weeks-old – were checked by our specialist vets and carnivore keepers who determined their sexes, administered vaccinations and weighed them.

Image © Peter Byrne/PA

Our Curator of Mammals, Tim Rowlands, said:

“Both species basically receive the same vaccines that a pet cat is given at the vets.

“The difference is we’re much more cautious about handling the cubs than we would be with domestic kittens.

“We worked in teams to complete the checks quickly, before returning them to their mums as soon as possible. They are very good mothers and fiercely protective of their young charges, so we certainly didn’t want to hang around long.”

Image © Peter Byrne/PA

Each of the cubs also received a full physical examination which revealed the tigers are both female and the cheetahs are one of each.

Tim added:

“Sumatran tigers and northern cheetahs are two of the rarest big cat species in the world and so these are very, very special cubs indeed. We needed to make sure they are healthy and in good body condition and happily all of the cubs have been given a completely clean bill of health.”

Image © Peter Byrne/PA

The tiger cubs were born on June 2 and are the offspring of mum Kirana and dad Fabi and the cheetahs were born two days later to mum KT and dad Matrah.

Their arrivals are a big success for us and good news for the future of both species.

They will now become part of European-wide breeding programme, providing an important safety-net in the event that wild populations become extinct.


Fast Facts

Tigers • The Sumatran tiger cubs were born on 2 June 2013

• The cubs are as yet unnamed

• Mum Kirana is seven years old (born 8/5/2006)

• Dad Fabi is six years old (born 17/5/2007)

• Sumatran tigers are generally pregnant for around 105 days

• Sumatran tigers are found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is one of the rarest big cat species in the world as, in the wild, they are poached for traditional medicines and much of their jungle habitat has been destroyed

• The species is classed by conservationists as being critically endangered in the wild


Cheetahs • The northern cheetah cubs were born on 4 June 2013

• The cubs are as yet unnamed

• Mum KT is six years old (born 26/3/2007). It her second litter having given birth to cubs in June 2011

• Dad Matrah is six years old (born 22/4/2007)

• The arrival of the cubs is cause for celebration not only for the zoo but also the International Endangered Species Breeding Programme, with recent estimates suggesting very few northern cheetahs now remain in the wild. Over the last 100 years the wild population has plunged by 90% and it is feared there may be as few as 250 northern cheetahs left. Chester Zoo’s new cubs will eventually become part of the breeding programme aiming to help ensure the future survival of the species

• The Northern cheetah is endangered in its native northwest Africa – largely because they have increasingly found themselves coming into conflict with larger predators and also farmers, as both their habitat and access to prey has reduced. Cheetahs are perceived to be a major threat to livestock by farmers in Namibia. This is despite researchers saying they are responsible for less than five per cent of predator-related livestock deaths.

• Chester Zoo supports vital research and conservation of cheetahs in Namibia

• The zoo helped fit GPS tracking collars on a number of cheetahs and the evidence gathered proved that three male cheetahs were not involved in recent attacks on cattle. This data is being used to help mitigate against human/cheetah conflict