Auckland Zoo is delighted to share that its five-year-old Sumatran tiger Zayana has given birth to two cubs, who at this early stage look to be doing well.

Born in the early hours of Tuesday morning (2 January), the cubs (estimated to each weigh a little under 1kg/ around 3.5lbs) are receiving the undivided attention of Zayana who has so far been demonstrating great mothering skills.

“Zayana chose to give birth outside within a sheltered den in our tiger habitat, and from a safe and discrete distance we’ve been monitoring her and the cubs. It’s great to see how focused she is on ensuring both cubs are well positioned to be able to regularly suckle from her to get the vital nutrients and food they need to grow and thrive,” says Auckland Zoo Lead Senior Keeper (carnivore team), Nick Parashchak.

“Just as a tiger mother would be doing in the wild, she’s also being highly protective of her offspring who are born blind and won’t gain their full sight until around two weeks of age and will be completely dependent on Zayana for months to come. In addition, she is spending a lot of time grooming them which is an important activity as it stimulates the cubs’ circulatory and digestive systems.”

These latest births follow a breeding recommendation from Zoos and Aquariums Association of Australasia (ZAA) Sumatran tiger Species Management Plan for Zayana and male Ramah. The regional programme is part of the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA) Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) for this critically endangered big cat whose population numbers fewer than 400 in the wild.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have achieved this milestone, and we’re cautiously optimistic that everything will continue to track well for Zayana and her cubs. But as with any animal births, the first weeks for both mother and offspring, are always critical.

Our job as keepers, with the support of our veterinary colleagues, is to continue to monitor her and the cubs closely, while giving her the space and privacy she needs, and do everything we can to ensure she has a safe and secure environment to successfully carry out her new role as a mother,” says Nick.

Screens are currently in place at the tiger habitat area where Zayana and her cubs are, and we are asking visitors to pass by the area quietly for the next few days to provide the extra privacy she and her offspring need at this very early stage. Although Zoo visitors won’t be able to see the cubs just yet, male Ramah will have access to a separate area of the tiger habitat.

At present it’s not possible to say when visitors are likely to see the cubs, but we will keep everyone updated about their progress via our social channels, and as we can, will share photos and footage.


Sumatran tiger Ramah enjoys a training session

Follow along with our expert carnivore keepers as they explain the importance of our regular health checks.


  • Male Ramah (6) from Oklahoma City Zoo and female Zayana (5) from Topeka Zoo and Conservation Centre (Kansas) arrived at Auckland Zoo in early November 2022.
  • Auckland Zoo received a breeding recommendation for these two big cats from the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA) Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) for Sumatran tigers. Zayana and Ramah bring valuable new genetics - to enhance and sustain the Australasian region’s population.
  • Breeding: Female Sumatran tigers reach sexual maturity around 3-4 years of age, and males at 4-5 years. Females come into oestrous every three to nine weeks, and following conception, have a 100 – 108-day gestation before giving birth. Average litter size is 2-3 cubs, which the female rears alone. In the wild, there can be between 200-250 matings over the course of the female’s receptive period (between 4-7 days) – as cats are induced ovulators – requiring the multiple stimulation for ovulation to occur.
  • Conservation status: The Sumatran tiger is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of Threatened Species. Fewer than 400 of these tigers remain in the wild. Internally within zoos, there are close to another 400, as part of zoos’ global breeding and advocacy programme for this species.
  • Zoo support for tigers in Sumatra: Auckland Zoo, through its Conservation Fund, supports a Lingkar Initiative Indonesia Project via WildCats Conservation Alliance. This project works to strengthen conservation of Sumatran tigers in the south-west of Kerinci Seblat National Park - through collaboration with government agencies and religious leaders, while building lasting support among the community for Sumatra tiger conservation using Islamic perspectives and values. We also support the Sumatran Ranger Project (SRP). SRP’s rangers work in collaboration with local communities, to protect the wildlife (including tigers) and habitats of Gunung Leuser National Park in North Sumatra – part of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most diverse habitats on Earth. When visiting the Zoo, our community joins us in supporting these and many other vital projects working to save threatened wildlife -here in Aotearoa and globally, as a portion of their ticket goes to the Conservation Fund.