27 January 2015

The three-week-old tiger triplets were born on Jan 2 but have just started to emerge from their den as their proud mum starts to show them off.

The cubs are the off-spring of eight-year-old Sumatran tigress Kirana and seven-year-old dad Fabi.

There are believed to be just 300-400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild as they are often targeted by poachers who use their body parts as traditional medicine and much of their jungle habitat has been destroyed.

Curator of mammals, Tim Rowlands, said:

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.

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

Mr Rowlands added:

The arrival of this latest trio of cubs is vital to the ongoing survival of the species and the back-up population found in zoos. They are now part of a safety-net against the population in the wild becoming extinct which, to me, is incredibly humbling.

It will be several weeks until keepers can discover the sexes of the tiger triplets and a decision can be made on their names.

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 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 out more about Islands here: www.chesterzoo.org/islands