It’s just over two weeks since Auckland Zoo’s Sumatran tiger Zayana’s two cubs were born, and we can now confirm that they are a male and a female!

Thanks to Zayana’s dedicated mothering, her twins are thriving - with the male now weighing 3kg (a 2kg increase since birth!) and the female, 2.3kg.

Yesterday Carnivore keepers Nick and Kristin and senior vet An were able to carry out a well-planned, albeit brief (just a few minutes) physical health check which included weighing the cubs - all while Zayana was inside enjoying a generous breakfast and some ‘mum time’.

“For a first-time mother, Zayana is doing a really amazing job. It’s through the training we’ve done and continue to do with her, and the trust that we’ve all developed, that we’ve been able to carry out this important health check while she remained totally relaxed,” says lead senior keeper Nick.

At two-weeks old, the cubs’ eyes are now fully open so they’re taking in the world around them. Nick describes their mobility as still “very wobbly”.

“At this early stage their movement is naturally very limited, but they’re able to wobble and scramble to reach mum to suckle, which they’re now doing every hour or two. When hungry they are both extremely vocal – letting mum know with squeaks and squeals. As expected, life is very much a cycle of sleeping, waking, being groomed and cleaned by mum, and suckling.”

With the level of energy and resources required to feed her cubs, Zayana’s appetite has increased significantly.

“We’ve doubled Zayana’s diet, which she’s very happy with! This is ensuring she is getting plenty of protein and vitamins to support lactation while having two very hungry mouths to feed,” explains Nick.

Zayana is now choosing to bring her cubs inside sometimes from the cave where she gave birth to them.

“Everything we’re doing to support Zayana is determined by her behaviour and what she is comfortable with, and we’re super stoked with how she and the cubs are doing.


Tiger cubs first health check

Watch as carnivore keepers Nick and Kristin check the health of these two-week old Sumatran tiger cubs their first health check.

“What’s really important for all of us to understand is that in the wild a Sumatran tiger mother will keep her cubs hidden in a closed den for up to two months – to protect them from danger and to support their health and growth.

“Zayana’s instinct is also to do this here in our zoo environment, which is very positive as she’s doing exactly what she should be doing for her offspring. For our visitors, this does mean that it may be another month or so before they can see the cubs and we therefore ask for everyone’s patience and understanding – the wait will be worth it!”

The privacy screens currently in place in front of the area of the tiger habitat where Zayana has her cubs, will remain for now, but male Ramah (the cubs’ father) can still be seen out in the adjoining habitat when he chooses to be.

Stay tuned for more updates on the cubs’ progress via our social channels.