Rare Sumatran tiger cubs emerge from den at Chester Zoo for first time

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The pair of Sumatran tiger cubs at Chester Zoo have now been named by zoo keepers.

Two of Chester Zoo’s newest residents have been spotted on camera after emerging from their den for the first time. A pair of rare Sumatran tiger cubs joined their mum, Kasarna, for a cautious but playful time out and about.

The cubs, which are both female, have been named by zoo keepers. These names are Alif and Raya, and the two cubs join the world’s smallest tiger species.

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In the wild, Sumatran tigers are critically endangered. This, according to Chester Zoo, is due to an increasing human population. The species is also heavily poached for its skin, bones and canine teeth, which are sold illegally in traditional Asian medicine markets.

The species of tiger are found only on the Indonesian forest island of Sumatra. There are only 350 left there - which is why the sight of two cubs thriving is a big boost to conservationists.

Chester Zoo is part of an international conservation breeding programme to protect the species. Its aims are to boost its numbers and safeguard the species’ future on the planet.

Dayna Thain, carnivore keeper at Chester Zoo, said: “These majestic animals are hanging on to survival by a thread in Sumatra. They’re one of the world’s rarest tiger subspecies and so to see these two cubs thriving here is absolutely wonderful. It’s a real joy to get a glimpse of the cubs exploring and enjoying some playful rough and tumble together.

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“The cubs are still a little shy and pop in and out of the den with mum Kasarna, but it’s going to be a real privilege to watch as they grow in confidence and their feisty personalities really start to show through. Recently, we discovered them both to be female and have named them Alif and Raya.

“Crucially, with so few Sumatran tigers left on the planet, Kasarna’s girls are vitally important additions to the conservation breeding programme which is working tirelessly to prevent the species from becoming extinct.”

Chester Zoo’s newest residents out for a play (Photo: Chester Zoo) Chester Zoo’s newest residents out for a play (Photo: Chester Zoo)
Chester Zoo’s newest residents out for a play (Photo: Chester Zoo)

Here are some fun facts about Sumatran tigers, kindly provided by Chester Zoo

  • Sumatran tigers have webbed paws, which make them excellent swimmers
  • They have white spots on their ears which act as false eyes and make them appear alert from behind
  • The Sumatran tiger’s stripes are closer together than other tigers
  • Tigers usually hunt at night, around once a week
  • Tigers are the largest of the big cats, and the largest carnivorous land mammal on Earth.
  • The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of all species of tiger
  • Six subspecies of tiger remain with three having already gone extinct
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